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Treat Sciatica with Acupuncture

Table of Contents

sciatica acupunctureIn this article we’ll discuss sciatica, which is one of the conditions that can be treated with acupuncture. For those who suffer from inflammation and pain caused by sciatica, regular acupuncture sessions can be a very helpful approach for dealing with symptoms. Acupuncture is performed by inserting thin needles into strategic points on the body – acupuncture for sciatica-related pain specifically is performed similarly. 

Let’s discuss more about how Acupuncture can help with Sciatica. 

Sciatica is tremendously painful for those who suffer from it. For those with the condition, pain pills and surgery are often the available treatments.  Of course the problem with this is that painkillers have numerous adverse side effects, including addiction. We’ve all been touched by the opioid epidemic, and yet, painkillers are still often the go-to drug of choice. Even over-the-counter medications aren’t exactly safe if you’re using them long-term. While OTCs aren’t addictive, they do alot of damage to the body. With years of use, the liver is affected heavily by OTC and prescription pain pill use. Many patients who don’t want to use medicine weigh the option of surgery. While it’s helpful to have an alternative route for dealing with the pain, surgery is often not an option. This is what makes acupuncture a welcomed treatment for sciatica. It takes the need for pain pills and surgery out of the equation.

Trigger Points

Before we get into sciatica pain, let’s talk about trigger points and how they cause your pain.  For thousands of years in Chinese medicine these have been called Ashi points  or “oh yes” points – they’re places that cause pain upon palpation of the tissue. Trigger points are tight and tender bands in the belly of a muscle. They can appear in any muscle and cause pain directly in the muscle while also referring to other areas. Trigger points are areas where the muscle has shortened and tightened – also called contraction. The circulation in these areas is impared, causing a lack of oxygen and nutrients. It also impairs the ability to clear waste products, resulting in pain and muscle dysfunction.

Muscles do not function in isolation, so when one muscle’s function is dysfunctional it can cause a series of reactions in the chain of muscles that work together to allow or produce certain movement. So when treating your injury we are looking for a pathway of pain. Connected places in the body affected by the injury or illness.  We look for the areas of tightness causing muscle dysfunction as well as areas where there is pain.  Only when both are treated can you achieve the rapid result I do with my patients, here at Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center.

What is Sciatica?

sciatica acupuncture treatmentSciatica is a painful condition, caused by inflammation at the site of the sciatic nerve. For the most part, it occurs on one side of the body. So, the pain it causes is uneven, thus causing more annoying pain and overall unbalance. 

The sciatic nerve starts in the lower spine, extending to the hips, down to the backs of the legs. When the sciatic nerve gets pinched, it results in sciatica or sciatic pain. There are many reasons this may occur, most doctors will quickly signal that it is a bulging disk or some other spine-related issue causing your nerve pain.  It can be caused by a bulging or herniated disc or can be caused by tight muscles in the glute-area, the hamstring or in one of the other muscles in the lower back region. 

The truth is, sciatica is also easily misdiagnosed. Given the close proximity of the sciatic nerve to the hip joint, it is not surprising that injury to the hip joint can mimic symptoms of sciatica.

Inflammation of the SI (Sacroilliac) Joints

This pain often comes on slowly with no obvious injury. It localizes in the buttocks and can cause radiating pain down the back of the thigh. This is thought to be due to either irritation of the sciatic nerve as the result of SI joint inflammation or referred pain from the SI joint—pain that is perceived to be in a location other than the location of the pain generator.

One of the most common causes of sciatica is a muscle called the piriformis. This muscle originates at the sacrum and runs through the sciatic notch, attaching to the top of the femur. Piriformis syndrome is caused by the piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve. People with this syndrome typically report pain in the buttocks and a shooting pain down the same leg that is made worse by sitting.

What happens during an Acupuncture session?

During the session your practitioner will make you as comfortable as possible. There are also things you can do to prepare yourself for a session. Wear loose and comfortable clothes. Many people bring a pair of shorts to change into. If you’re having pain in a certain area, like the shoulders, wear an article of clothing that allows the shoulders to be easily accessed. With most Acupuncture treatments we can push your clothing up to expose the treatment area – and, if needed, we could always drape a sheet over you. 

Why Not Surgery?

Even though the pain caused by sciatica is most often severe, very few patients are actually considered good candidates for this type of surgery. Surgery is usually reserved for patients that have other coexisting symptoms, including weakness in the leg and issues with the bladder or bowels.

How Can Acupuncture Help with Sciatica?

sciatica raleigh acupunctureSciatica pain can be treated with acupuncture. To do it your practitioner will stimulate certain points on the body in order to alleviate the pain and inflammation. In addition to needle insertion, the therapy may include:

  • Manual manipulation
  • Heat
  • Guasha 
  • Electrical pulses

Symptoms of Sciatica

When sciatica pain radiates from the lumbar region, it moves through the buttocks and the back of the leg. Pain and discomfort may exist anywhere along the sciatic nerve, but it often starts in the lumbar area and radiates downward.The pain may be mild or it could be intense. This depends on the person. Some people say it’s more of an ache, while others suffer from a jolting pain, similar to an electrical shock. Some experience tingling and numbness.

In Conclusion: How can Acupuncture Help with Sciatica?

Sciatica can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. That’s why living with sciatica pain is extremely difficult. Acupuncture can help. It can help stimulate blood flow, which can help restore nerve function and improve pain points overall.

Where can I treat Sciatica with Acupuncture in Raleigh, North Carolina?

Sciatica is one of the conditions that can be treated with acupuncture. Acupuncture can also help with pain, swelling, migraines, bursitis, muscle cramps, hip pain, carpal tunnel, and more. If you’re searching for a qualified Acupuncturist to help with your arthritis inflammation and pain in Raleigh, North Carolina, you’ll want to find someone with experience, qualifications, and compassion. Look no further than Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center. Our goal since 2010 has been to provide quality and compassionate acupuncture in Raleigh, NC and the surrounding areas. 


Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center for all of your Acupuncture needs

Hi, I’m Jim Eleczko, the founder of Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center and it’s my mission to provide you with compassionate, whole-person care using holistic treatments, including Acupuncture and topical herbal medicine. I’m a board-certified and licensed Acupuncturist practicing since 2010 in Raleigh, North Carolina. I love that I get to wake up every day to make meaningful changes in my patient’s lives. I’ve seen first hand the changes that Acupuncture can make. As a teen I suffered from allergies and my father suggested that I try Acupuncture to calm the symptoms. It worked – and left a lasting impression on me! Now I offer Acupuncture and other treatments to help people with a variety of issues, including anxiety, migraines, fibromyalgia, and more. Our other treatments include Dry Needling, Tuina Massage, Guasha, Cupping, Stretching, Orthopedic Movements, Electroacupuncture and Therapeutic Exercises. 

Here’s a bit more about me and my qualifications: I studied the 4-year program at Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine and continue to travel multiple times a year to study with my mentor, Andrew Nugent-Head. I also studied under Dr. Ed Garbacz, M.D. LAc and spent a year working and studying under Dr. Bonnie Walker, M.D. LAc. I have also done extensive post-graduate studies in acupuncture, nutrition, herbal medicine from lectures of acupuncturists like Dr. Nguyen Van Nghi, Dr. Tran Viet Dzung, Matt Callison, and Edward Obaidey. 

Get in touch with me by calling (919) 260-4104. I’d be happy to answer your questions and get you booked for an appointment today!