Sciatica is pain caused by pressure or irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It consists of a large bundle of smaller nerves that begin in the low back region of the spine, travel down the buttocks and move through the legs. Symptoms of sciatica include radiating pain, numbness and tingling. Irritation of the sciatic nerve can be caused by muscle spasms, spinal disc compression or slipped spinal discs.Current statistics show that up to 10 percent of the population between the ages of 25 to 45 are dealing with or have experienced sciatic pain.
In Traditional Chinese medical theory, blood stagnation is the most common cause of sciatica. Blood stagnation can affect the soft tissue of the lumbar spine, hips and pelvis. This is what causes the muscles to spasm, then creating extra tension that triggers the shooting pain associated with sciatica.
Traditional Chinese medicine suggests several treatment modalities for managing sciatica.
Acupuncture for sciatica: Many studies have shown that acupuncture is more effective at relieving the pain, numbness and tingling associated with sciatica than modern medicinal treatments. Acupuncture treatments can help to reprogram the muscles to stay in a relaxed position and reduce disc swelling that may be compressing the sciatic nerve. Acupuncture treatments can also help treat sciatica by releasing natural painkillers like endorphins and enkephalins from the brain and neurological system, which can make you feel better!
Acupuncture points for sciatica:
Urinary bladder 23: This point is located on the lower back, halfway between the lowest ribs and the hip bone and on either side of the muscle group that runs right up the spine. This point reduces muscle tension and provides relief from lower-back pain.
Urinary bladder 40: This point is located directly in the middle of the crease at the back of each knee. This point treats all the major pain sensations felt along the spine. It also helps to control muscle spasms, knee stiffness, arthritis, leg pain and it helps to dissipate excess heat trapped in the body.
Urinary bladder 62: This point is located just below the ankle bone on the outer side of each ankle. This point is great for relieving lumbar spine tension as well as anxiety.
Dietary and Lifestyle Recommendations for Sciatica: Adding potassium to your diet can help with sciatic pain. Bananas, oranges, potatoes and spirulina are all good sources of potassium. Dark, leafy vegetables and legumes, such as black beans, kidney beans and soybeans are also beneficial when dealing with sciatica. Avoid foods that create dampness in the body, such as spicy, greasy or fried foods and dairy.
Incorporating daily exercise and stretching into your life can also help. The low back and lumbar spine may become weak if they are neglected, so sitting for long periods of time without getting up can be very detrimental. This also has a way of weakening the muscles of the lumbar area, which then can lead to slipped discs. Stretching and moving throughout the day, even after the pain has subsided, is vital to a healthy back.