Sciatica is the most common complaint heard by doctors next to back pain stress, and infertility. This article will deal a little with physiology and anatomy in order for us to better understand why the sciatic nerve is sometimes irritated, and what interventions can be used to help calm it down.
What is Sciatica Pain?
The main nerve in our legs is called the sciatic nerve. It is formed from several nerves leading from the lower back that travels through the buttock and down each leg. When the sciatic nerve is inflamed, pain/numbness/weakness is felt in the buttock and upper thigh. In severe cases it can travel all the way down to the feet, where the pain is felt down the back of the leg or the outside of the leg depending on which part of the sciatic nerve is inflamed. The pain may feel constant or it may be a sudden pinching sensation.
What are the Symptoms of Sciatic Pain?
The most common symptoms of sciatica are muscle weakness and lower leg sensation problems. Skin outside, behind, and over the side and sometimes front of the leg can experience stretching pain, abnormal cold and hot sensation, pins and needles, and numbness. Muscle can weaken and atrophy. Some patients may even complain of “Foot Drop” a condition in which they can’t lift up the front part of their feet.
What are the causes of Sciatic Pain?
No specific cause can be blamed. Just a simple act as bending over may lead to sciatic pain. Aggravating factors can include straining, sitting, lifting or standing. Sciatic pain arises when something bears pressure on the sciatic nerve such as a muscle spasm, spinal disks, or even sometimes when the spine itself pushes the nerve. This pain is most often caused by a slipped disk or muscle spasms, although the pain can also be a sign of another serious illness.
A slipped disk, which is referred to by chiropractors and physicians as Spinal Disk herniation occurs when a tiny part of the spinal disk bulges out of the vertebrae. The disk then pushes on the sciatic nerve resulting in pain. In certain severe instances, a constriction of the spinal canal (known as spinal stenosis) can impinge on the nerve and generate pain. Spinal tumors a serious condition that needs immediate medical intervention is another serious cause of sciatica.
Sciatic pain can also be due to muscle spasms that most often occur in the piriformis muscle. Muscles in the pelvic region and lower back can be affected by sciatica, as well.
How can Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Help Quell Sciatic Pain?
Traditional Chinese medicine or TCM and acupuncture which is a component of TCM has been shown to significantly reduce the severity of pain that a sufferer experiences daily. A lot of acupuncturists report a 90% rate of success in the relief of sciatic pain. The use of TCM and acupuncture treatment helps increase the support of the muscles around the sciatic nerve which works extremely well in the long-term relief of pain.
The Chinese believe the balance of the flow of life energy in the leg is the only way to stop sciatic pain. The acupoints used are mostly located on the affected legs and lower back. The needles are inserted along the path of the sciatic nerve and directly stimulate it.
Scientific studies have produced evidence showing acupuncture to be very effective in treating sciatica and lower back pain via the following mechanisms:
– Alleviating inflammation by helping release certain vascular and immunomodulatory factors
– Activating nerves situated in muscles and other tissues, resulting in production and release of neuro-hormonal factors such as endorphins, that leads to a modification in how pain is processed by the brain
– Contributing to a transient change in blood circulation to the sciatic nerve, including blood flow to the nerve root and the cauda equine.
– Improving joint mobility and loosening muscle stiffness by boosting local microcirculation helping in the decrease of swelling.
– Promoting sciatic nerve regeneration
– Enhancing the sciatic nerve’s conductive parameters
– Affecting the neurotrophic factor signaling system; the importance of this effect is that is leads to increased amounts of noradrenaline and serotonin in the bloodstream that can help speed nerve repair and relieve pain
Are There Any Side Effects From Acupuncture Sciatica Treatment?
There are no side effects at all in a sciatica treatment using Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. There are patients who may experience some slight bruising or drowsiness. It is also very effective safe for all including pregnant woman suffering from sciatica.
How Many Acupuncture Treatments Are Required to Treat Sciatica?
Usually about five to ten sessions of acupuncture are needed but it varies from patient to patient. To prevent the return of the condition, top up sessions thereafter are needed.
How Does One Approach Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Treatments?
One should have an open mind and willing to know more about TCM and acupuncture since people wouldn’t be using it for thousands of years if they really don’t work. Working together with your doctor and acupuncturist is by far the best way to attain the best treatment results.