Sciatica describes a condition that causes pain that generally starts in the buttocks and radiates down the back of the leg, possibly as far as the foot. Sometimes it is paired with numbness or tingling in the same regions. Sciatica is more of a description than a diagnosis. It is like saying you have a sore throat. That tells you WHAT you feel but not WHY you feel it. Sciatica tells us we have pain, but not why. It can be caused by arthritis, a bulging disc, or muscle spasms in the gluteal region. It is essential to visit a doctor that will uncover the underlying cause rather than simply cover up symptoms. As a chiropractor, that is what I am trained to do.
Once we know what is wrong we can focus on returning patients to health. With many of the people that see me, the pain levels are so significant that the primary focus is to simply provide relief. Jeff’s story is a great example. He was referred to me by a friend of his who had seen me for a similar issue. When we first met, he could barely walk and was in severe pain that started in his hip and radiated down to his leg. Classic “sciatica.” My initial recommendation was to begin acupuncture to help modify his pain as quickly as possible. Although a bit hesitant, he decided to begin treatment.
Jeff’s response was nothing short of amazing. He noted relief immediately after treatment and within a few weeks was pain free. This allowed us now to focus on the structural issues that set off his pain to begin with. Although the responses to acupuncture vary from condition to condition and person to person, I’ve witnessed many similar outcomes over the years.
One recent medical journal review looked at 11 different studies that were completed that evaluated the benefits of acupuncture for the treatment of sciatica. A total of 962 patients were enrolled in these studies. Their findings prove what practitioners practicing acupuncture have known for thousands of years. Acupuncture works very well when it comes to treating painful conditions such as sciatica. Here is what they said:
“In conclusion, the results of this systematic review suggest that the use of acupuncture may more effectively relieve leg pain/lumbago and improve global assessment of sciatica when compared with NSAID (anti-inflammatory pain medication) treatment. Moreover, adjuvant acupuncture may enhance the effect of medications in leg pain/lumbago relief. To patients, acupuncture points appear more effective than nonacupoints. Acupuncture is relatively safe and is rarely associated with serious adverse events in patients with sciatica.”
Before you spend your time and money having a variety of tests done that rarely change treatment decisions, look towards conservative treatments like chiropractic and acupuncture. I think you will happy you did!