Sciatica: Top Treated Condition

Sciatic-Nerve-Pain-Relief-111The National Institute of Health report that back pain is the most common reason for acupuncture use in the U.S.[i] Sciatica is a type of back pain shared by 10% of the US population, with a 40% lifetime incidence.  Not only does the World Health Organization recognize it as a condition that acupuncture is effective in treating, but it also appears in most “commonly treated” lists.

What is Sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is the largest in the body and begins in the lower spine travelling down the buttocks and through the leg.  “Sciatica” is often caused when something puts pressure on the nerve, including muscle spasms of the piriformis.  The irritation of the nerve results in radiating pain, often with tingling and numbness.   Causes vary and may include: occupational injury, high heeled shoes, long periods of sitting or standing, and pregnancy.

Self Help:

  • Avoid sitting for long periods get up from your desk and stand/stretch every hour
  • Avoid crossing your legs.
  • Engage in strengthening exercise, especially of the core region.
  • Massage will help relax the muscles that may be spasms causing the nerve irritation.
  • Acupressure (your acupuncturist can show you which points and techniques are best for your particular symptoms).

Acupuncture Can Help:

  • Acupuncture reduces the pain and inflammation of sciatica by stimulating endorphine release.
  • It improves blood flow to the lower back increasing circulation.
  • It can relax muscle spasms that may be irritating the sciatic nerve.
  • It can promote regeneration of the sciatic nerve.

Acupuncture Research:

Much of the research on acupuncture and sciatica has been completed outside the US and has not been published in the US or translated into English. We will highlight some of the findings of these studies:

From Beijing Chaoyang Hospital in China, 105 patients with sciatica were treated with electro-acupuncture. Results showed that following treatment,  82 patients (78.10%) improved and 23 (21.90%) did not. Following the fifth treatment, those who improved showed an increase in interleukin-2(IL-2) and a decrease in cortisol(COR).[ii]

From Iran, 18 patients with sciatica were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group received acupuncture and the other group received conventional medications like NSAID and muscle relaxers.  Patients received 10 treatments in 4 weeks. Results showed both groups had a significant decrease in the intensity of pain, with no significant difference between the groups.[iii]  Due to the small sample size, it would be expected that statically significant differences between the groups would not be able to be measured.

From Dongguan China, 120 patients with sciatica were randomized into two groups. One group received lumbar traction, low frequency impulse electrotherapy and electric acupuncture treatment and the other received just the lumbar traction and low frequency impulse electrotherapy treatment. Two weeks of treatment was provided. Results found the acupuncture group had significantly greater reduction in pain and lumbar development.[iv]

Wildwood Acupuncture Center has treated thousands of patients with sciatica effectively.  We are a family owned medically based clinic who will work in collaboration with other treatments you are receiving to enhance your treatment results.

Call us today to schedule a consultation: 301-530-5308


[ii] REN, C., GAO, Y. H., GENG, F. T., LIU, J. L., & LI, J. H. (2012). Correlation Analysis of Electro-acupuncture Effect and Immune Regulators in Treatment of Sciatica. Chinese Journal of Information on Traditional Chinese Medicine, 9, 006.

[iii] Qasim, S. J. M. A. I. (2014). Acupuncture And Sciatica. Kufa Journal for Nursing Sciences| مجلة الكوفة للعلوم التمريضية, 3(3).‎

[iv] Qiusheng, Z. G. L. G. Z. (2009). Effect Estimate in Lumbar Hernia of Intervertebral Discs and Sciatica with Therapy of Electric Acupuncture. Guangming Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2, 069.