We can start to appreciate the effects of acupuncture on sciatica symptoms once we understand how it works and how sciatica occurs. Sciatica is a form of back pain that is due to abnormal pressure bearing on the sciatic nerve. This causes pain down the back or side of the body that usually radiates all the way down the calf or even the ankle. Sciatica can be the result of one or a combination of factors:
Vertebral diseases such as degenerative joint disease and a herniated disc – these conditions affect the structure of the spine resulting in pressure in one of the nerves that bundle together to form the sciative nerve.
Inflammation – This results in irritation and pressure on the sciatic nerve
Spasms of muscles located in the direction where the sciatic nerve runs – Occasionally, some of these muscles, particularly the piriformis muscle, can manage to squeeze the nerve. Other muscles in the proximity of the spine that are affected by a bulging disc can also put pressure on the nerves.
With regards to the third and second causes of sciatica, one can avail of acupuncture to help treat the pain and inflammation. Acupuncture can work to a certain degree when it comes to sciatica resulting from a herniated disk. It can relieve the secondary muscle spasm and inflammation and muscle spasm; acupuncture can also help lessen the pressure which can help relieve the pain.
Pain may still not be generated when a bulging disc impinges on the nerve. But if the already affected nerve receives more pressure from a tensed muscle, sciatica then can occur. So, while it may not be able to resolve a bulging or herniated disc, acupuncture can treat the pain and the spasmed muscles, which is more important as it aggravated the pressure on the nerves which then generates the sciatic pain.