Can Sciatica be treated with Acupuncture?

Can Sciatica be treated with Acupuncture?

Many people often seek western medicine as a treatment option to cure neck pain, back pain, and other pain-related conditions. Unlike western medicine, acupuncture is widely considered to be a non-traditional approach to treat pain-related conditions. Now, an increasing number of patients, physicians, and health professionals are using and recommending acupuncture as a method to cure neck pain, back pain, joint pain, and other pain-related conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine has documented results that prove the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating both acute and chronic pain. Sciatica is one such condition that can be treated by acupuncture.

To understand Sciatica better, we need to understand how our spinal nerves are placed and where the sciatic nerve is present in the body.

The wonderful way in which Spinal Nerves are placed in our body

All spinal nerves, as the name suggests, arise from the spinal cord. These nerves are mixed nerves that transport a variety of signals between the spinal cord and the body. The vertebral column is an arrangement where the individual 33 vertebrae are placed one above the other. The middle of each vertebra is hollow and through this hollow space passes the spinal cord. The spinal cord as we all know is very sensitive and hence evolution has placed it safely inside the vertebral column. The entire vertebral column acts as a housing for the spinal cord and the spinal nerves that branch out from the spinal cord exit from both sides of the vertebrae. Between each vertebral bone, there is a spinal disc that acts as shock absorbers and also holds the vertebrae together. This gives a cushioning effect and also they help the back to bend a certain degree.

Can these vertebrae move out of their position?

These discs sometimes move accidentally from their original position and get herniated. Accidents, chronic strain to the back, riding two-wheelers, traumatic bends, not following methods while lifting weights, are some of the reasons why the vertebrae can move from its original position. The symptoms of a herniated disc can vary depending upon the location of the herniated disc. The most common symptom of a herniated disc is back pain.

Where is the Sciatic Nerve

The Sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body that arises from the spinal cord in the L4–S3. It travels from the lower spinal region down to each leg. It is the longest and widest nerve in the human body.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a nerve injury that can occur due to a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons for sciatica is a herniated spinal disc in the lumbar region. 90% of the sciatica cases occur due to the herniation of the lumbar disc. When a lumbar spinal disc gets herniated it compresses or presses against the sciatic nerve. The herniated disc can compress the sciatic nerve from one side or from both sides. The compression can also occur due to local tumors, muscle tension in the lower back or buttock region, etc. Other causes of sciatica include degenerative causes, lumbar spinal stenosis, Spondylolisthesis, etc.

Sciatica Symptoms and the Typical Pain

Sciatica is a condition that presents as pain that radiates from the lower back region or the buttocks region down the thigh, leg and foot region. The typical pain caused in sciatica is due to the compression of the nerve roots that exits the spine in the lower back. The pain usually radiates from the lower back to the lower limbs. Although sciatica, most often, affects only one leg, rarely, it can affect both the legs. Along with radiating pain, sciatica can also cause weakness, numbness, and loss of sensation. The pain that arises from sciatica is often varied and can range from being mild to severe.

How Acupuncture can be used for treating Sciatica?

The biggest wonder is Acupuncture treatment is the only treatment modality where it is able to decompress the compression exerted on the sciatic nerve. Once the compression is revealed the symptoms fade away. Documented research has shown that acupuncture can induce important biochemical changes like releasing natural painkillers such as endorphins and enkephalins too.

Difference between Sciatica treatment in Western Medicine and Acupuncture

Laminectomy recommended in western medicine is a surgical procedure done to relieve the compression by excising a portion of the vertebra. This procedure always holds a risk of damage to the spinal cord resulting in various other complications. Whereas in Acupuncture, it is a non-surgical procedure where the decompression is relieved thereby curing the underlying pathology, wherein there is no recurrence. 

Dr. Muthukumar

Dr. Muthukumar is a medical Acupuncturist practicing exclusive acupuncture therapy for 33 years is basically a medical graduate from Madurai Medical College, Madurai. His keen interest and passion towards acupuncture made him pursue this valuable art and obtain a Ph.D. degree from Singapore in 1997 and served as an acupuncturist in China in 1997. Running an exclusive acupuncture unit at Vijaya Health Centre at Vadapalani, one of the forerunners in the field of multi-specialty hospitals. He Was invited by the government of China as a member of Indian Delegation in 2016 August.