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Acupuncture for Sciatica

TCM provides a fast and evidence based solution to the agony of sciatica

Acupuncture for Sciatica

Far too many of us are familiar with the agony of an attack of sciatica. That awful shooting pain that leaves us immobile for days and in severe discomfort for up to 6 weeks… In this article we will explain what happens when you experience a flare up of sciatic pain and provide some simple tips that can help you to take back control. We will also explore how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approaches this debilitating condition - and how it can help to get you back on your feet once more.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica describes a common condition where the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your feet, becomes irritated or compressed. The result of this is severe pain that starts at the buttock and radiates down either one of both legs and may be felt all the way down to your feet and your toes. To add to your woes the pain may also be accompanied by numbness, tingling and burning sensations which are exacerbated by movement. Conventional western medical solutions to this condition include painkillers and physiotherapy or when the problem is particularly severe decompression surgery may be recommended.

What is the Traditional Chinese Medical approach to Sciatica?

TCM has a long history of helping to treat people with sciatica – fast. Acupuncture for sciatica pain provides an excellent and evidence based solution to treating sciatic symptoms. Your practitioner will start things off by examining you closely. They will ascertain where the pain start off, and the nature of the pain – whether the pain is sharp or dull. They will then be able to prescribe the best treatment programme for you.

Acupuncture for Sciatica – How does it work?

Acupuncture works by stimulating specific acupuncture points that run along the site of the sciatic pain. There is a set of acupuncture points – known as a meridian – that runs all the way from the middle of the buttock, all along the back of the thigh and legs right down to the feet and toes. In fact this acupuncture meridian (its the Bladder Meridian) runs along precisely the same channel as the sciatic nerve – no wonder acupuncture is so effective!

Your acupuncture practitioner will frequently insert single use, sterile stainless steel needles along this meridian. In doing so they will promote the flow of energy in this area. The effects are usually impressive: Even with only a couple of treatments a patient will often feel an immediate reduction in pain – the tingling sensations will diminish and mobility will return. The acupuncture points that are stimulated help your body’s innate ability to heal itself and to reduce inflammation. On occasions your practitioner may also use additional techniques such as moxibustion, massage and cupping to further improve the flow of energy, reduce pain and to restore mobility.

acupuncture for sciatica

Acupuncture for sciatica numbness

Not having sensation in the toes or feet or experiencing numbness can be very difficult for patients. It impairs your ability to walk which in turn has a further impact on confidence and the ability to exercise effectively, which can further exacerbate the problem! Acupuncture for sciatica numbness is a very gentle treatment – with a hefty result! There are many acupuncture points located along the legs, feet and toes. Your practitioner will gently stimulate these points using super fine needles – you probably won’t notice much more than a gentle warming sensation as the blocked energy starts to flow again. You will find that the numbness and tingling will shift in a short space of time – allowing you to get on with the things that you want to do with your life.

What about Moxibustion?

Earlier on in this article we mentioned that moxibustion is helpful in the treatment of sciatica. Moxibustion describes the application of the natural Chinese herb Moxa – or Mugwort in English – to an affected area. When this herb is lit and expertly applied to the back, it provides a wonderfully warming sensation. As well as being soothing and incredibly relaxing, this treatment also nourishes the flow of energy as it flows down the legs and to the feet. When the flow of energy has been boosted in this way the pain will naturally diminish. When you are able to move more freely your practitioner might provide you with a moxa stick – it looks a little bit like a cigar, but it is filled with medicinal moxa – and show you how to warm up your lower back and legs yourself, allowing you to keep up the good work in between treatments.

acupuncture for sciatica

Keep on moving…

Some gentle exercise tips that you can carry out to prevent sciatica problems from flaring up

When your sciatica plays up you may be tempted to lie in bed and to stop engaging in physical activities. It’s important that you resist this temptation as soon as you are able to. Gentle exercise is such a great way to restore movement and flexibility to your body which in turn will help prevent this problem from returning in the future. Exercise helps in the following ways:

  • It increases your muscle strength Exercise increases the proper engagement of your muscles and improves muscle strength. Your spine is supported by muscle fibres all the way along its length. When these muscles are strong they improve its stability, reducing pain from muscular fatigue in the process.
  • Pump up the blood flow! When we exercise the flow of blood to the muscles, nerves, and other soft tissues in the spine increases – Just think about how pink in the face we go after a run as your blood gets pumping! This process results in a better supply of nutrients to these tissues, promoting healing and relieving stiffness. From an acupuncture perspective a better flow of Blood results in an improved flow of Qi – or energy – around the body, which in turn means that your tissues receive a greater amount of nutrients, enabling them to function at their best.
  • Be like Bamboo Close your eyes and think of the bamboo plant for a moment. Strong, upright – yet flexible. Try to incorporate flexibility and movement into your everyday routine. Even gentle side to side movements will help. Exercises such as these will help to maintain the flow of nutrients between the nerves and surrounding tissues, increasing its flexibility.

For more information about how Chinese Medicine can help you with sciatica, book your free consultation with our Chinese Medicine experts today

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our clinics website: GinSen where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.

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