With sciatica pain or low back pain it begins to radiate down one’s leg. From there it goes down to the toes and this can be excruciating and debilitating. There are many different types of therapy out there that one can choose to do. However, in our opinion, acupuncture seems to work the best for sciatic pain. Decreasing sciatic pain levels or any pain levels for that matter. There are many different avenues one can take to help their sciatic pain levels decrease. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese herbal medicine have been shown to work very well. There are also different exercises that one can do to help with pain levels including specific stretches and strengthening routines.
Sciatica can be quite interesting in that it’s generally the compression of the sciatic nerve, which is located and begins in the lower part of the back and hip. It is one of the largest nerves in the body and runs along the side and behind both legs and branches off at about the level of the knee cap and ending almost in the feet. When these nerves are irritated it can cause a tremendous amount of pain specifically down the leg.
Many of the symptoms consist of back pain, lower back pain, hip pain, pain down the leg, numbness and weakness in various parts of the leg and foot. Some additional signs and symptoms include “pins and needles” feeling in the effected area or limb. Usually this pain affects only one side of the body but it can also affect both.
In a situation like this where the sciatic nerve is affected we can treat this using acupuncture. The treatment would generally consist of locating where the issue is exactly coming from then gently treating the area with acupuncture needles. Our goals are to make sure the muscles around that area (i.e pirformis, gluteal minimus, medius and maximus) loosen so we can relieve any pressure or irritation that’s being applied to the nerves in the area. Therefore we want to make sure we are extremely gentle so the patient does not stiffen or tighten up. Acupuncture can get the specific muscles in the affected area to relax, elongate and begin to heal at a quicker rate. By this method the joints that are held together by the muscles begin to slightly adjust and fall into place which in turn relieves any pain or pressure that might take place due to an irritated nerve. The acupuncturist must work very diligently and have accurate point location to create the desired effect or not much relief will take place. Along with your acupuncture treatments, specific stretching exercises must be given to keep the muscles in the affected area limber and loose. If muscles are not maintained and stretching is not done, the area that is treated will revert back to the original state where it was functioning with pain.
The combination of acupuncture treatments for sciatica and the stretches that we prescribe at our office essentially causes the inflammation to decrease in the area while increasing circulation into the affected area where the sciatic nerve is irritated.
This in turn causes a quicker healing time and almost instant relief. Lastly, diet plays a very large roll in your rehab as well. Simple adjustments must be made to increase rate of recovery. For example, staying away from products that contain gluten for a few days or weeks would be a great idea because gluten may cause a mild inflammatory response in the body causing further irritation to an inflamed area. Therefore, to cut out any wheat based items would be a good move. Furthermore, incorporating supplements to accelerate the healing process would be a great step as well. Things like an organic food based multi vitamin or calcium and magnesium to improve muscular function and elasticity would be a great to incorporate for faster recovery along with staying hydrated.