Acupuncture: Could It Be the Answer to Your Sciatica Pain?
Sciatica pain comes in right after back pain and stress for the number of visits made to doctor offices. Sciatica is classified as a pain in the lower back region, the hip, the back of the thigh and down through the lower leg and foot, where sciatic nerve runs. Symptoms often involve cramps in the legs that may cause intense numbness, tingling, electric-like shocks, burning, and sudden weakness in muscles. On rare occasions, some individuals develop bladder control issues and bowel problems, in which case, the condition may be very serious and require to seek immediate medical attention.
What Causes Sciatica?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western medicine both have their explanation for what causes Sciatica. From Western medicine’s perspective, sciatica is believed to be the result of a structure problem in the body. This includes spasm in the Piriformis muscle (muscle in the hip area), herniated disc, inflammation of facet joints or the vertebrae, and lumbar spinal stenosis. These conditions irritate or compress the sciatic nerve that travels from the lower lumbar spine to the legs.
TCM differs from the western medicine diagnosis because it takes both internal and external factors into consideration, such as changes in weather conditions during winter and fall seasons. In fact most people with conditions like allergies, neck pain, back pain, arthritis, and specific skin conditions, experience more intense pain during winter seasons. TCM believes that environmental influences like heat, wind, and cold, work in conjunction with internal structural problems to create conditions like sciatica. Therefore, from a TCM perspective, sciatica is also categorized as a condition that occurs when there is too much dampness and coldness in the environment that can affect blood circulation and the distribution of Qi (energy force).
How Does Acupuncture Reduce Sciatica Pain?
Acupuncturists treat sciatica by inserting thin needles under the skin, which are then manipulated. The cause for the problem should be determined before the treatment is administered. For instance, if the cause of the problem is lumbar spine, then needles will more likely be inserted along acupuncture points close to the lumbar facet joints and paraspinal muscles. If the cause of the problem is in Piriformis muscle, then treatment may be more focused on relieving Piriformis spasm.
Trigger Point Needling is one of the common acupuncture treatment techniques applied on people with sciatica. It is used to correct imbalances in the muscles, reduce muscle spasms, and lengthen shortened muscles to prevent sciatic nerves from being compressed. It also helps to improve communication with the nervous system and organs.
There are also other acupuncture techniques that can be used to relax tense muscles, correct joint inflammation and slipped disc, and improper blood circulation. Some acupuncturists also administer laser acupuncture or moxibustion therapy. Traditionally trained acupuncturists often insert needles on other areas of the body such as head, abdomen, and arms to restore the natural flow of Qi. Ensure that the acupuncturist you visit is professionally trained and able to address sciatica treatment by using both Eastern meridian system and Western anatomical perspectives.
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