Can Acupuncture help sciatica?
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What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica occurs when something pushes on the sciatic nerve. This can be a muscle spasm, the spinal discs, and sometimes even the spine itself. Most often this pain is due to muscle spasms or a slipped disc, but it can also be a sign of serious illness and it is important to go to you doctor for a diagnosis.
Muscle spasms are also a common cause of sciatica. Most often it is the piriformis muscle, but it can be other muscles in the lower back and pelvic region.
What is piriformis syndrome?
The sciatic nerve runs under or, in some people, through the piriformis muscle. This muscle is located in the pelvis. It is connected to the bottom of the spine and the top of the femur, or thighbones. If the piriformis muscle starts to spasm or becomes tight, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause the pain as well as the radiating symptoms. This persistent spasm of the piriformis muscle is called piriformis syndrome. It can be caused by an injury or sedentary lifestyles in people who don't stretch or exercise. Particularly if you sit all day at a desk or computer, this can be a problem.
How Does Chinese medicine view sciatica?
Chinese medicine states that the body is interconnected; no one part can be separated from another. The diagnosis and treatment is based upon identifying specific imbalances in the muscles and the body as a whole. Correcting the imbalance does not just treat the symptoms or mask the condition, but rather corrects the root of the problem by encouraging self-healing of the body. The most common imbalance in acute sciatica is qi and blood stagnation in the back channels. But it is also important to treat the underlying imbalance, which may be causing the qi and blood to stagnate.
Qi and blood stagnation in the channels often affects the soft tissue of the lumbar, hips, and pelvis. This is what causes the muscle spasm and tension that triggers the intense shooting pain of acute sciatica.
Some common underlying imbalances are kidney qi vacuity, spleen qi vacuity with dampness, and liver qi stagnation. By treating the underlying imbalance, you can prevent the sciatica from returning.
Kidney Qi Vacuity: If your back feels very weak and it does not get better with a lot of rest, the underlying imbalance may be kidney qi vacuity. Other symptoms include weakness of the knees, extreme fatigue, ringing in the ears, dizziness, and a weak pulse.
Spleen Qi Vacuity with Dampness: For those with spleen qi vacuity with dampness, you will also have fatigue and weakness, but the back feels better with rest. Your body may feel very heavy and you may have poor digestion.
Liver Qi stagnation: Liver qi stagnation causes your muscles to be very tight and in spasm when you become angry or frustrated. Also, you may suffer from frequent headaches and, in women, painful menses.
How Does Chinese medicine Treat Sciatica?