Sciatica and Acupuncture

lumbar needles copySciatica pain is a very common occurrence that affects people from all walks of life and can be debilitating in some cases. Acupuncture is an effective and safe way to treat sciatica pain without surgery or medications.

Sciatica pain often occurs in the low back and hip and can radiate down the leg, sometimes stopping at the knee and sometimes going all the way down to the feet. The pain can be dull or sharp or sometimes feel like electrical shocks depending on the reason for the sciatica pain and the severity of the case. Sciatica pain refers to the sciatic nerve which runs out from the spinal cord at the level of the sacrum and travels across the buttocks and down the leg. The sciatic nerve is often agitated by a muscle called the piriformis. This muscle similarly runs from the sacrum to the greater trochanter of the hip and is a major muscle that we use daily. The sciatic nerve can vary in its location in relation to the piriformis, it can lie above, below, or in some rarer cases through the piriformis muscle. If this muscle becomes agitated, tense, tight or injured, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve resulting in pain.

The piriformis can be become agitated for several reasons, most commonly for today, is due to improper hip and leg alignment. This can be a product of the large amounts of desk jobs, sitting for long periods of time, and long periods of time driving in a car. All of these activities place stress and force on our hips and thighs that they were not designed for, and can move them out of alignment with each other. When one part of the body is injured or out of alignment, other parts of the body can also fall out of alignment or become injured as the body tries to compensate which can compound the problem. Injuries, falls, and hip replacements or spinal issues can also cause sciatica pain.

From a Chinese medicine point of view, pain is due to stagnation of qi and blood, a lack of proper circulation can lead to pain as the tissues are deprived of nourishment. The sciatic nerve and the areas of pain involve reflect involvement in the Urinary Bladder and Gall Bladder meridians in acupuncture theory, these two channels cross the back and lateral sides of the body , but run across the hips and buttock area. Using acupuncture points along these channels can increase circulation of qi and blood as well as relax the muscles in this area to give some relief from pain. In addition to using acupuncture with manual stimulation, electrical stimulation on these points can also be very effective for pain relief. Additional therapies such as cupping and tui na massage can also be effective ways to loosen tight muscles and break up any connective tissue adhesions that may be causing pain. Qi Gong, Tai Chi and movement therapies can also provide a more long term solution to help become more mindful of the way we are sitting and walking and how to realign our bodies.

If you are in Aurora, Denver or any of the surrounding cities and are dealing with sciatica pain or have questions about this or any other issue, please feel free to call or email me, I would love to speak with you!


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Christopher Shiflett L.Ac  M.S. TCM, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)

Christopher Shiflett L.Ac M.S. TCM, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)

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