Sciatica is caused by inflammation of the sciatic nerve – the longest and widest nerve in the body. It’s about the thickness of your little finger.
While sciatica often isn’t serious, it can create a lot of discomfort.
From an acupuncture perspective, there are two meridians (energetic pathways) that are involved, the bladder and gall bladder meridians. Note: Inflammation in these meridians does not mean that you have bladder or gall bladder problems.
When there is the smooth flow of energy through the meridians, there’s health in the body. Notice how the meridians run along the same area of the sciatic nerve.
Treatments can help:
-open up restrictions in the meridians
-reduce inflammation along the spine in areas that are pressing on the sciatic nerve
-relax muscles that are contracting and causing pain
-teach you to eat in a way that reduces inflammation in the body
About 80% of adults experience back pain at some point in their lives, and I've had a lot of experience treating it in the 20 years that I've been practicing acupuncture. I've always been curious about what contributes to the pain. Is it a pulled muscle or ligament, a weak immune system, osteoarthritis, a bulging disc, tight muscles or some combination of these? Read more about this.
Over the past few years, I've been studying a manual therapy called Visceral Manipulation that offers an additional explanation for pain and restriction. Jean-Pierre Barral, a French Osteopath, teaches that restrictions in the connective tissue around and between the body's organs cause pain, particularly chronic pain that is difficult to treat.
Releasing these restrictions can be done by first feeling the actual pull of tissue in the body, testing to see which organ is causing the primary restriction and then gently treating the organ to restore its natural rhythm.
My work has always been based on releasing restrictions. Now in addition to feeling blockages in the acupuncture meridians, restrictions and pain in the muscles, bones and ligaments, I've been looking for restrictions in tissue around each organ. Also, I've been making sure each organ has its own intrinsic healthy rhythm.
It's been an amazing journey for me and has enhanced the work that I do. It's another component of helping my patients can get lasting pain relief and a body that truly functions at an optimal level.
When someone comes to me with back pain, I'm always interested in finding out exactly what they are referring to. Did they pull a muscle shoveling snow or lifting a heavy object? Have they recently had surgery? Do they have scoliosis or another structural problem? Do they have a weak immune system? Have they been spending many hours in front of the computer? Is the pain sharp and stabbing or dull and achy? Does the pain radiate into the legs?
The answer to each of these questions is important because back pain isn't one specific thing. My treatments vary depending on exactly where the pain is, what is causing it and what acupuncture points each person responds to. So I take time to listen to what each patient is experiencing. I then palpate the body carefully so I know exactly where the discomfort is. Patients who are receiving treatments from other medical professionals at the same time they are receiving acupuncture treatments tell me that these practitioners are pleasantly surprised at how quickly they recover.
Likewise, patients are often surprised that I can offer them relief without putting needles into painful areas. Instead, I pick points that release pain but are located far away from where the injury is. When the body is relaxed it is better able to receive treatment and heal.
A great acupuncture point to massage if you have lower back pain is Japanese Lung 10, which is pictured below.
Bonnie Diamond, Licensed Acupuncturist