Sciatica, more accurately termed lumbar radiculopathy, is a syndrome involving nerve root inpingement – your spine is made of many bones called vertebrae, and your spinal cord runs through a canal in the centre of these bones. Nerve roots split from the cord and travel between the vertebrae into various areas of your body. When these nerve roots become pinched or damaged, the resulting symptoms are called radiculopathy.
Different parts of the spine cause different symptoms:-
S1 or L5 irritation pain may radiate along the back of thigh and the back of the leg
S1 irritation the pain may radiate to the side of the foot,
L5 irritation pain may radiate to the outside of the foot and to the large toe.
L4 or L3 irritation pain may radiate along the front of the thigh into the anterior leg,
L2 irritation pain may radiate in the middle of the thigh,
L1 irritation pain may be in the groin
Sciatica can be incredibly painful, so much so that you can hardly move, though it may be a constant dull ache. Indicators for sciatica include side leg pain that is greater than low back pain, pain radiating to the buttock, leg, foot, toes with numbness, pins and needles increased pain on straight leg raising and sitting.
There is substantial research to show that acupuncture is significantly better than no treatment and also at least as good, if not better than, standard medical care for back pain (Yuan 2008, Furlan 2008). There is less specific research on acupuncture for sciatica, but there is evidence to suggest that it may provide some pain relief (Wang 2009, Chen 2009, Inoue 2008, Wang 2004).
Acupuncture can help relieve back pain and sciatica by:
- stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins andother neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in thebrain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987, Zhao 2008).
- reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003).
- improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling.
- causing a transient change in sciatic nerve blood flow, including circulation to the cauda equine and nerve root. This response is eliminated or attenuated by administration of atropine, indicating that it occurs mainly via cholinergic nerves (Inoue 2008).
- influencing the neurotrophic factor signalling system, which is important in neuropathic pain (Dong 2006).
- increasing levels of serotonin and noradrenaline, which can help reduce pain and speed nerve repair (Wang 2005).
- improving the conductive parameters of the sciatic nerve (Zhang 2005).
- promoting regeneration of the sciatic nerve (La 2005)
Many patients can have damage in the vertebra, caused by overuse or age related degeneration, some patients have sciatic pain from muscle spasm. Many patients in my practice see great relief from the symptoms and learn to look after themselves to prevent more aggravation from sciatic pain. When you have a chronic back problem it is always advisable to have regular acupuncture treatments for ongoing care of the back.
Traditional Five Element Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for Sciatica, to relax and strengthen the muscles, support the vertebra and maintain the back, to reduce recurrence.
For information and treatment contact Hannah on ;-https://www.southwellacupuncture.co.uk/contact/