Sciatica

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is one of the most common disorders seen in the acupuncture clinic. It is a form of nerve inflammation and getting rid of inflammation is what acupuncture does best.

Symptoms of Sciatic nerve pain

  • lower back pain
  • pain in the buttock, hip or leg
  • burning, tingling down the leg
  • weakness,numbness or difficulty moving leg or foot
  • aching, stabbing, burning pain
  • spasms
  • shooting pain usually down one side only.

 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.sciatica 2 image of pain down leg

Depending on several factors, the symptoms of sciatica may vary. Even in the same patient, there may be dramatic variation from one moment to the next. This is common when nerves get inflamed.

What causes Sciatic pain or nerve inflammation?

Sciatica is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. A slipped disc is the most common cause of sciatica.

Additional common causes of sciatica include:

  • Lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back)
  • Degenerative disc disease (breakdown of discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae)
  • Spondylolisthesis (a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over another one)
  • Pregnancy 
  • traumatic injury 

Other things that may make your back pain worse include being overweight, not exercising  regularly, wearing high heels, or sleeping on a mattress that is too soft.

For this purpose, acupuncture is unrivalled. It is without risk, highly effective and not difficult to endure, as it is painless. It is also accessible to all, without side effects.

How does acupuncture work?images (1)

  • Acupuncture:   reduces pain and inflammation
  • relaxes muscles and increases joint mobility
  • improves local micro circulation
  • causes changes in sciatic nerve blood flow
  • promotes regeneration of the sciatic nerve

It is best to approach sciatica using combination style treatment.  An effective therapy many include acupuncture, massage, cupping, and stretching.  The back, hip, and pelvis are very interconnected and the treatment should incorporate all of them.  Overall, the treatment should relax and stretch the tendons and fascia while strengthening the muscles.  This will help release the spastic muscles and strengthen them, allowing the back to naturally heal.  It can even encourage an out of place disc to go back into place, depending on severity.

Nice recommends acupuncture as a safe and effective treatment for back pain

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines on best practice now recommend that GPs offer a course of 10 sessions of acupuncture as a first line treatment for persistent, non-specific low back pain*

* National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence clinical guideline 88 – Low back pain. www.nice.org.uk/CG88

Colette Assor has over 20 years experience in the treatment of back pain and has successfully treated many patients.  Colette completed two years massage training in 1996 followed by degree level TCM Acupuncture in 1999. Colette is the Acupuncturist at North West London Physiotherapy Centre, North London’s leading physiotherapy centre. Colette is a member of the British Acupuncture Council, the leading regulatory body for Acupuncturist’s in the UK.