Sciatica is a syndrome rather than a specific diagnosis most commonly caused by a herniated disc with nerve-root compression. This syndrome creates pain affecting the sciatic nerve, a large nerve ending from the lower back down the back of each leg. First-time incidences of sciatica and influences of the development of sciatica include factors such as smoking, obesity, occupational factors, health status, age, gender, and social class. According to traditional Chinese medicine, also known as TCM, sciatica belongs to the gallbladder meridian and the bladder meridian and these are two areas of focus when treating this syndrome.
Acupuncture can be traced back at least 3000 years as part of the healing system based on the principles of TCM. Traditional acupuncturists understand health in terms of a vital force or energy called “qi” which circulates between the organs along channels called meridians. Because sciatica is a channel disorder, acupuncture focuses on removing channel obstruction and promoting qi and blood circulation in its treatment.
Causes of Sciatic Pain:
Degenerative disc disease (the breakdown of the discs that provide cushion between the vertebrae)
Lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
Spondylolisthesis (a fracture in the wing-shaped portion of a vertebrae that causes it to slip forward over another vertebrae)
Pregnancy (increased pressure on the lumbar spine)
Herniated lumbar disc, also known as Slipped disc, Bulging disc, Pinched nerve (the cushion between vertebrae is pushed to the outer portion of the spine)
Acupuncture and herbs relieve sciatica, which is characterized by lower back pain radiating through the hips, buttocks, and legs. It usually only affects one side of the lower body. Often, the pain extends from the lower back all the way through the back of the thigh and down through the leg. Depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected, the pain may also extend to the foot or toes.
Both acupuncture and acupuncture herbal medicine effectively produce significant positive patient outcomes, as acupuncture and herbs stimulate important biochemical changes aiding in pain reduction.
Symptoms of Sciatica:
Lower back pain
Pain in the rear or leg—worse when sitting
A shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up
Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot
Burning or tingling down the leg
A constant pain on one side of the rear
Dr. Jane Catania, DACM
Board Certified & Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist Trained in China & U.S.