Ease Your Sciatica Symptoms with Acupuncture
Pain medication and rest, common sciatica treatment recommendations, don't always provide complete relief from symptoms. Unfortunately, your work and family responsibilities don't change even though you're struggling with constant pain. If your symptoms have begun to impact your life, why not try acupuncture? Acupuncture treatments ease pain and stiffness and can even improve the health of the sciatic nerve.
Getting to the Root of Sciatica
Sciatica is a painful condition that occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes irritated and inflamed. The sciatic nerve branches out from either side of the lower part of the spinal cord and extends into your buttocks, hips, and legs. Pain can travel the length of the nerve, causing discomfort from your back to your legs and into your feet. Pain may worsen when you move, and you may experience sudden jolts of pain. Symptoms usually affect just one side of the body.
Unfortunately, pain isn't the only symptom of sciatica. Nerve irritation can lead to weakness in your legs, a burning or tingling sensation, and numbness. In extreme cases, sciatica may affect bladder or bowel control.
Nerve irritation and inflammation occur when something presses on the sciatic nerve, such as a bulging disk between two vertebrae or a bone spur. You may also develop sciatica if the muscles or tissues surrounding the nerve become strained, which can occur due to poor posture, sitting too much, or jobs that involve twisting or heavy lifting. Extra pounds may increase pressure on the nerve. Aging and nerve damage due to diabetes may also be factors in sciatica.
How Acupuncture Relieves Sciatica Symptoms
Acupuncture treatments offer several effective pain relief effects. Treatments can help control:
- Pain. Inserting acupuncture needles into the skin at precise acupuncture points triggers the release of endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. The hormones relieve pain naturally and also help you feel relaxed. Acupuncture may also affect the pathways and regions in the brain that play a part in pain perception. In a study published in Frontiers in Pain Research, researchers found that acupuncture reduced the amount of pain patients said they felt. Obvious changes in two frequency bands of resting-state brain activity corresponded with the reduction in pain level.
- Inflammation. Acupuncture activates nerve pathways involved in controlling inflammation. Treatments calm inflamed tissues, reducing sciatica symptoms.
- Tissues Relaxation. The same hormones that relieve pain also help your tendons, ligaments, and muscles relax. As muscles loosen, pressure on the sciatic nerve lessens. Acupuncture triggers a whole-body relaxation response that will help you catch up on the sleep you've been missing due to your sciatica pain.
- Improved Circulation. Acupuncture therapy enhances blood flow, improves mobility, and reduces stiffness. The treatments also increase blood flow, ensuring that healing nutrients reach the sciatic nerve and the tissues around it.
- Nerve Repair. A recent systematic review in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience examined the effect of acupuncture on peripheral nerves. Researchers reported that acupuncture prompts the release of nerve growth fibers that ease pain and help the nerves regenerate and repair themselves.
Acupuncture offers an effective way to treat sciatica symptoms, according to researchers who conducted a systematic review published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. They noted that acupuncture was more effective than traditional treatment in pain intensity and outcome.
Are you ready to improve your sciatica symptoms with acupuncture? Get in touch with our office to schedule an appointment with the acupuncturist.
Frontiers in Pain Research: Two Distinct Neural Mechanisms Underlying Acupuncture Analgesia, 5/18/2022
Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience: Application and Underlying Mechanism of Acupuncture for Nerve Repair After Peripheral Nerve Injury: Remodeling of Nerve System, 10/24/2023
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: The Efficacy of Acupuncture for the Treatment of Sciatica: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, 9/6/2015
ScienceDirect: Complementary Therapies in Medicine: The Effectiveness and Safety of Acupuncture Treatment on Sciatica: A Systematic Review, 12/2022
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Sciatica