Sciatica is one of the most common disorders in the acupuncture clinic. It is a form of nerve inflammation and reducing or eliminating nerve inflammation is what acupuncture does best.
Sciatica is not a common medical diagnosis but rather a term used to describe a set of symptoms which may include back pain but there may also be hip, leg, and/or foot pain. At times there may be minimal pain while the patient suffers most from numbness , tingling, or prickling sensations called paresthesia. There may be aching, stabbing or burning pain; spasms, or the leg may “give out” causing one to fall or lose balance. There can be a leg weakness or even a leg coldness. The inflammation from sciatica can cause the nerve’s normal signal transmission (hot, cold, pain, etc.) to give a pain signal that is off the scale. The pressure one experiences may come near the spine where the nerves that feed the legs emanate or it may occur in the hip joint or near the muscle known as the piriformis. It appears to be most aggravated by sitting or standing in one position for long periods of time. Although Sciatica can have variable presentations it usually manifests on one side only. Anyone who has experienced sciatica will agree that it can be one of the most painful and persistent of all pain syndromes!
For the treatment of the nerve inflammation caused by sciatica acupuncture is an unrivaled choice. Although sciatica can have variable stubborn manifestations for the most part acupuncture can usually begin turning it around in a few sessions. After one experiences relief from this sometimes debilitating complex of symptoms, it is extremely important to explore all of the possible contributing factors and make some changes.
I personally suffered from frequent, severe episodes of sciatica 25 years ago. It wasn’t until I sought out the combination of acupuncture and chiropractic that I began to resolve the issue. Permanently. Following up with maintenance treatments, exercise and lifestyle changes has had me sciatica-free for more than twenty years.
For the past 16 years in practice I have seen sciatica best treated with a combination of treatments and lifestyle changes which start with acupuncture to reduce the inflammation. Once the body is out of this extreme state of involuntary contraction and nerve pain, chiropractic care is able to more easily manipulate the body into a proper alignment and work with the areas of the body’s muscular compensation that always accompany this condition. In the acute stage ice, gentle stretching (if tolerated), rest and avoiding the activities that began the cascade of symptoms is advised. Once resolved, strengthening, other therapies such as massage and postural therapies as well as a different approach to exercise may be necessary to keep the condition from reoccurring.
Anita Alexandra, L.Ac., CH is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist with 16+ years of experience. She practices at Chiropractic Health and Acupuncture, 619 Main Street, Frisco. (970)668-3299.