Sciatica Q & A
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is the lower back and leg pain that happens due to damage or impingement to your sciatic nerve. Your sciatic nerves originate in your lower back, run through your buttocks, and down the back of each leg.
When one of these nerves is damaged, you can feel pain anywhere from your lower back, to your leg, all the way to your foot. Other sciatica symptoms often include:
- Constant, dull ache in your low back, buttocks, or back of one leg
- Sharp, stabbing pain in your hip or leg that makes sitting or walking painful
- Burning, tingling, or numbness that begins in your lower back or buttocks and travels down the back of one leg and into your foot
- Pain down the side of one leg causing discomfort in any position
What causes sciatica?
Herniated discs in your lower spine are one of the biggest culprits of sciatica pain. Other reasons you may experience the sometimes debilitating symptoms of sciatica include:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Pressure from pregnancy
- Scar tissue from a previous injury
How is sciatica treated?
For mild sciatica pain, heat and ice may help relieve your painful symptoms. You can alternate heat and ice for 20-minute intervals to get temporary pain relief.
Acupuncture can help alleviate the tension and pain of an impinged or damaged sciatic nerve by relaxing tight muscles, improving blood circulation, regulating the nervous system, and releasing neurotransmitters to reduce pain. Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for sciatica without the side effects of prescription pain medications like NSAIDs and muscle relaxers.
Acupuncture treatments with or without electronic stimulation and manual therapy techniques along with targeted stretching also help relieve the pressure on a sciatic nerve. Joseph will work with you to see which protocols work best for your pain relief.
How many acupuncture treatments are needed for sciatica?
Traditionally, Joseph treats patients with acute sciatic pain for at least 8-12 visits, and patients with more chronic sciatic pain for at least 16-20 visits; with visits generally set at 2 times a week before moving into a “maintenance” plan which can differ depending on each patient’s need. For example, after the initial set of treatments, most patients may wish to continue coming in for acupuncture treatments once a week, or once every other week while some patients may only need to continue their targeted sciatic acupuncture treatment once a month in order to continue progressing without pain.
Will I feel relief from my treatment right away?
Every patient is different in their body response to acupuncture. For acute cases, a patient will likely feel some relief within 2-3 treatments. For more chronic issues it could take up to 8-12 treatments to feel relief depending on other circumstances, such as disc herniation, stenosis, etc. It is important to note that consistent and frequent acupuncture treatments aid in your overall improvement and progression towards long-term relief or even possibly eliminating sciatic pain altogether. Of course, this outcome of treatment depends on your own body, as every body is different in how it responds to any treatment based on other health conditions the patient may have.