Acupuncture for Sciatica
Sciatica refers to pain radiating along the sciatic nerve, which originates in the lower spine as a combination of several nerves from the lumbosacral region. The nerve branches from the spine to the left and right buttocks and then travels down the back of the legs, at about the middle of the thighs, to the feet. Sciatic pain usually radiates from the buttock and is felt primarily in the back of the thigh, though it may extend to the foot. Usually, only one side is affected.
Causes of Sciatica can be from a number of different ailments. Oftentimes it is due to the pinching of one or more of the nerves leaving the spinal cord between L3 and S3. This starts when there is temporary prolapse or protrusion of the lumbosacral disc that causes the compression of these nerves. It can also be caused by the piriformis muscles pinching nerves also. This is often referred to as Piriformis syndrome. The piriformis is a deep, flat muscle on the bottock.
Often, you can get relief from certain stretches and exercise you can perform yourself at home. If that does not work, the next course of action would be to take anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxers, narcotics, or even antidepressants. For severe cases, they can inject corticosteroids to reduce pain. Injections can last anywhere from a few hours to a few months. It can vary with every injection.
In Chinese medicine, sciatic pain is differentiated into three types:
1. Due to Wind-Cold-Damp Bi obstruction, which obstruction(s) the meridian(s) down the lower limb, leading to pain that is aggravated by cold or damp weather, and a poor diet. Often the pain is better for the application of heat to the sore area.
2. Due to deficiency of the Liver and Kidneys, or generally due to a deficiency of Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang. This type of sciatica is often exacerbated by fatigue, lack of rest and sleep. This kind of pain is often worse at night or in the evening.
3. Due to muscular and structural tension, which is often worse when sitting or lying still.
Treatment will consist of several acupuncture needles in the lower back and limbs to help move and nourish any blockages of Yin, Yang, Qi, or blood. In some really stubborn cases, herbal therapy may be recommended, or the use of Electroacupuncture.
Some exercises you can do at home to help relieve pain are below.
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