Does Acupuncture For Sciatica Really Work?


The sciatic nerve is the longest in the entire body, extending from the lower lumbar down the back of your thighs. When this nerve becomes inflamed due to poor posture, a traumatic injury, or a degenerative disc disease, the resulting pain can be excruciating. Sciatica pain is uniquely horrible, causing a combination of intense pain, numbness, and tingling. If your symptoms have got you at your wit’s end, you may wonder if acupuncture for sciatica can help you get back on your feet.

Acupuncture is one of the most effective natural treatment strategies for sciatica available today. Because acupuncture reduces inflammation and swelling, it can help you overcome your debilitating sciatica pain and avoid future episodes. 

Can acupuncture help treat sciatica symptoms?

The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back and extends through the back of the thighs, where it tapers off into the tibial and peroneal nerves. Because the sciatic nerve covers such a long span of the human body, when it becomes inflamed, it can cause widespread pain. Sciatica pain can be felt in the lower back, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, and calves all the way down to the feet. A sciatica flare-up can leave you struggling to use nearly half of your body. 

Sciatica is caused by irritation to or compression of the sciatic nerve. This can be the result of poor posture, a herniated disc, degenerative diseases, spinal stenosis, or spondylolisthesis. Pregnancy can also contribute to sciatica, as the baby grows and adds pressure to the surrounding organs. 

Sciatica is a complex condition that can be caused by several factors, including lifestyle choices and genetics. Identifying the underlying cause of your sciatica is key to successful treatment. Unfortunately, in some cases, pinpointing the root cause of your sciatica is easier said than done. But, regardless of the cause of your sciatica, acupuncture can provide fast, all-natural relief from your symptoms. 

How does acupuncture for sciatica work?

The moment the first needle is inserted, acupuncture goes to work to relieve your sciatica back pain. As each needle breaks through the skin, this stimulates the nervous system, causing muscles to release tension. You’d be surprised how much pain contracted muscles can hold onto! But once your muscles finally relax, it can make a huge difference in your flexibility and overall strength. 

Acupuncture needles create tiny tears in the muscle fibers, resulting in a boost in blood flow to the injury site. Increasing circulation to inflamed tissues makes it easier to get oxygen and nutrients to them, so the cells can heal themselves. Better circulation also helps your body clear out inflammatory cells, like cytokines, so you can heal more quickly. 

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, acupuncture triggers the release of endorphins. These natural pain relievers are produced by the body after we experience something enjoyable, like holding a puppy or eating ice cream. Endorphins latch onto the opioid receptors in the brain, modifying the way you feel pain, so it’s easier to cope with those once-debilitating sciatica symptoms. 

Can acupuncture prevent sciatica flare-ups?

Acupuncture is an effective all-natural alternative treatment for sciatica. And it can help prevent flare-ups, too. Regular acupuncture sessions promote healthy muscle function, and being able to use your muscles correctly naturally improves your posture. When your back muscles support your spinal column properly, this lessens the strain placed on your discs, alleviating pressure surrounding the sciatic nerve. 

What does an acupuncture session for sciatica look like?

If you’ve never had acupuncture for sciatica before, you may be wondering just what to expect. The process is fairly simple. At the beginning of your first appointment, your acupuncturist will ask you some questions about your health history to gain a better understanding of your condition. You may also be asked to perform a few stretches or exercises to illustrate your strength and range of motion. 

At this point, your acupuncture session will begin in earnest. Needles will be inserted into various acupuncture points across your body. Acupuncture takes a holistic approach to healing. So not only will your sciatica pain be addressed, but also any other musculoskeletal imbalances you may be dealing with as a result of your sciatica pain.

Once the needles have been placed, you will be asked to relax for 20 to 40 minutes to let them work their magic. After that, the needles will be removed, and you can go on your way. You may be given a few stretches as “homework” to help maximize the effects of your acupuncture session later on. 

How many acupuncture sessions do you need to treat sciatica?

Acute trauma can cause temporary sciatica. These cases are usually much easier to treat and can be successfully handled with only a few acupuncture sessions. But if your sciatica is the result of a chronic or degenerative condition, then you will almost certainly need ongoing acupuncture treatment. 

The good news is, the effects of acupuncture multiply as time goes on. The more acupuncture sessions you have, the more your condition will improve. Even if you have been suffering from sciatica pain for years, it’s never too late to experience the healing powers of acupuncture. Regular “tune-ups” can help you treat your current symptoms and prevent future episodes. 

It is worth noting that, during the course of your acupuncture sessions, your acupuncturist may advise you to use additional alternative therapies. Nutrition therapy to alleviate systemic inflammation and Chinese herbal blends to support the healing process could make all the difference in your particular case.

Book your appointment today

Acupuncture is a supportive measure that can help you cope and recover from whatever musculoskeletal issues you may be dealing with, whether it’s sciatica, trigger finger, or a trick knee. At Orlando Alternative Health, we work with our clients to help them tackle their health issues head-on. 
Contact our office today to learn more about which conditions we treat, and to discover how alternative medicine can improve your health. When you book an appointment at our clinic, you’ll be taking the first step on your healing journey, and we’ll be right there with you as you make your way to the finish line. 

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