Acupuncture has emerged as a science-based treatment option for sciatica. It can provide persistent relief from sciatic pain and alleviate related symptoms, such as muscular weakness and numbness. It works by stimulating certain points in the body, regulating the nervous system and stimulating the release of the body’s natural painkillers. If you’re struggling with sciatica, Acupuncture may be able to help you regain your quality of life!

practitioner assessing sciatica

Is It Sciatica?

Lots of people experience back, hip and/or leg pain, and consider that they may be suffering from sciatica and for good reason. Sciatica is complex in that it can affect all 3 of these regions and is easily misdiagnosed, especially when we try to figure it out for ourselves. The impact of not knowing what is causing your pain is that you won’t necessarily be taking the right steps to resolve the pain and it typically gets worse over time, leading to increased pain. This also increases the time and cost involved in getting the issue resolved.

Sciatic pain, often known as sciatica, is brought on by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve or spinal nerves that come together to form the sciatic nerve. The pain brought on by sciatica can make it difficult to do normal day-to-day things such as sitting, standing, walking, and sleeping. This in turn will disrupt work, leisure, and ultimately our relationships with others. The pain can range from mild to severe and can be described as intense, stabbing, burning, or throbbing in nature. The pain can affect the entire path of the sciatic nerve, travelling from the lower back down the back of the thigh and through the leg. In some circumstances, sciatica can cause muscular weakness, loss of reflexes, and even issues with the bladder or bowels.

Sciatica is typically caused by bulging or herniated intervertebral discs, spinal stenosis, disc degeneration and muscular issues such as piriformis syndrome. In addition to this, other factors such as weight, sedentary lifestyle, poor posture and repetitive strain injuries can predispose some people to develop sciatica.

practitioner applying acupuncture for sciatica

Acupuncture for Sciatica

An important advantage of Acupuncture for sciatica is that it is a non-invasive treatment with minimal side effects. Acupuncture does not have the potential for addiction, organ damage, or other major adverse effects, unlike a lot of medicines used to treat sciatica or even surgery.

Medications may also only give brief pain relief and can’t be relied upon long term. Alternatively, Acupuncture can address the underlying issues that are causing the sciatic nerve to be compressed and reduce sciatic pain. When treating sciatica with Acupuncture and other treatments, we see that patients experience a gradual reduction in the frequency and intensity of pain over time.

In addition to relieving sciatic pain, Acupuncture can also alleviate other related symptoms, such as muscular weakness, numbness, and tingling sensations.

How Acupuncture Works

Acupuncture works by stimulating certain points in the body, which can assist in regulating the nervous system and stimulate the release of endorphins and enkephalins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. These painkillers block pain signals in the brain and reduce pain and discomfort.

In addition to alleviating pain, Acupuncture can decrease inflammation in the area that it is targeted towards. Inflammation is a normal response to damage, but it can also produce localised pain, oedema (a build-up of fluid), and stiffness. By decreasing inflammation of tissues that are compressing the sciatic nerve, whether that be an intervertebral disc or spasmed muscle like the piriformis, Acupuncture can reduce impingement of the sciatic nerve which leads to a decrease of all sciatica symptoms. This includes not only pain but also any neurological issues such as numbness or tingling sensations and muscular weakness which leads to an improvement in overall body function.

Acupuncture can also assist to enhance the production of cortisol, a natural anti-inflammatory hormone. The adrenal gland produces cortisol, which can reduce inflammation and pain in the body. By stimulating cortisol production, Acupuncture can reduce pain and inflammation in the affected region.

Acupuncture can also aid in the relief of sciatica by increasing blood flow to the affected area. As blood flow is enhanced, vital nutrients and oxygen are transported to the tissues, promoting healing and reducing inflammation. This can assist to enhance overall health and function whilst continuing to lessen discomfort and pain in the affected area.

Lastly, Acupuncture can help reduce muscle tension and spasms, which has an impact to decrease pressure on the sciatic nerve. This can reduce pain and suffering and improve general function. By stimulating certain points in the body, Acupuncture can induce relaxation and relieve muscle tension, therefore relieving pressure on the sciatic nerve.

The Benefits of Acupuncture for Sciatica

Acupuncture is a holistic approach to managing sciatica, providing numerous benefits for those suffering from this often debilitating condition. By choosing Acupuncture, you can expect:

  • Non-Invasive Treatment: Acupuncture is a gentle, non-surgical option, making it an ideal choice for those seeking alternatives to more invasive treatments.
  • Drug-Free Pain Management: This therapy eliminates concerns about drug dependency or side effects often associated with pain medication.
  • Reduction in Pain and Discomfort: Acupuncture targets the root cause of sciatica, offering lasting relief from pain.
  • Decreased Inflammation: By reducing inflammation, Acupuncture can alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve, thus easing symptoms.
  • Improved Mobility: Regular sessions can enhance flexibility and movement, making daily activities more manageable.
  • Enhanced Blood Flow: Improved circulation helps in the healing process, bringing essential nutrients to affected areas.
  • Natural Muscle Relaxation: Acupuncture aids in relaxing tense muscles, further reducing nerve pressure.
  • Holistic Health Improvement: Beyond targeting sciatica, Acupuncture contributes to overall well-being, promoting a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Acupuncture for sciatica is not just about symptom management; it’s about restoring your quality of life in a holistic sense to get you back to what you love doing most.

practitioner applying acupuncture for sciatica in leg

What to Expect During Your Treatment

During an Acupuncture treatment, your practitioner will gently apply Acupuncture to specific points of your body. You may feel a mild tingling or a dull sensation initially. This usually takes place for 20 to 30 minutes, our patients often share that the treatment often leaves them with a relaxing and calming response to their body.

Depending on exactly what is causing your pain, we may also recommend other associated therapies such as Remedial Massage, Cupping Therapy, Electro-Therapy or even natural supplements that can be used alongside Acupuncture to aid in your recovery.

As mentioned already, the cause of sciatica is highly variable in nature and with this comes a highly variable treatment process involving different treatment methods applied in different ways. Sciatica symptoms improve progressively throughout the course of treatment but for most people that present at the clinic with sciatica, we find that 6-12 sessions are sufficient. However, in some situations where sciatica has been left too long and the condition has become chronic, treatment may require more than 18 sessions to resolve symptoms.

Ready To Resolve Sciatica?

For many sufferers, sciatica is a debilitating condition that has a significant impact on their quality of life. As we shared, Acupuncture can provide natural pain relief and improve the healing of the damaged region by activating the nervous system, decreasing inflammation, boosting blood flow, and releasing muscular tension in order to relieve sciatica symptoms. Acupuncture’s ability to boost the body’s natural healing response and provide natural pain relief makes it an ideal therapy to effectively relieve sciatica.

If you are looking for a solution to sciatica, we welcome you to get in contact by calling our friendly team on (02) 4709 6727 or by booking an appointment online today. We look forward to discussing how we can help!