Sciatica

Sciatica, more accurately termed lumbar radiculopathy, is a syndrome involving nerve root impingement and/or inflammation that has progressed enough to cause neurological symptoms (e.g. pain, numbness, paraesthesia) in the areas that are supplied by the affected nerve roots. Posterior sciatica involves pain that radiates along the posterior thigh and the posterolateral aspect of the leg and is due to an S1 or L5 radiculopathy.

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. There is less specific research on acupuncture for sciatica, but there is evidence to suggest that it may provide some pain relief.

Back pain.jpg

Acupuncture can help relieve back pain and sciatica by:

  • stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to the release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.

  • reducing inflammation, by promoting the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.

  • improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation, which aids the 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 the administration of atropine, indicating that it occurs mainly via cholinergic nerves.

  • influencing the neurotrophic factor signalling system, which is important in neuropathic pain.

  • increasing levels of serotonin and noradrenaline, which can help reduce pain and speed nerve repair.

  • improving the conductive parameters of the sciatic nerve.

  • promoting regeneration of the sciatic nerve