We are here to ask the question can Acupuncture help with sciatica, a condition characterized by compression or damage to the sciatic nerve. Symptoms include pain, weakness, numbness, and burning sensations that can travel from the buttocks to the foot. Acupuncture, along with nutrition and herbs, can provide relief and reduce pain. Multiple therapies, such as chiropractic care and physical therapy, can be combined with acupuncture for better results. For more information, visit csjacupuncture.com or contact Carlo via email.”
Can acupuncture help with sciatica? Sciatica is something that you treat as an acupuncturist?
Yes, I do. Yes, acupuncture can help. Yes, the science does support it. Yes, patients do receive benefits and achieve some sense of relief. That was the word I was looking for here. Hi, my name is Carlos St. Just, licensed acupuncturist, holistic healthcare provider. I always like to do a little rundown here at the end of the day and just spill whatever’s on my mind out on the camera. Not trying to be shy, right?
So, just wanted to dive a little bit into sciatica and what I feel can distinguish true sciatica in the clinical sense and what patients can do and all that fun stuff. A lot of cool information.
Sciatica is compression or disturbance or any kind of damage to the sciatic nerve, which runs down the glute, the buttocks, or the glutes, and runs distally, which means away from the body downwards towards your foot. This muscle can get compressed by a… sorry, this nerve can get compressed by a muscle known as the piriformis muscle, and that can cause compression and affect the nerve. And whatever the reason may be for the compression of the sciatic nerve, you’re gonna have certain sensations. You’re gonna have either pain or weakness. What I find a lot of the times is that patients have pain, they have weakness, and also, clinically, what I see is they have numbness or burning sensation, and it travels all the way down to their foot, right, maybe to their calcaneus, which is your heel. So, you have the sensation that’s traveling all the way down, it’s burning, it hurts, you know, it’s possibly causing some weakness on one side.
And why is that important? Because I want to differentiate the sciatic pain from maybe a muscle strain or an issue with the tendon or whatever the case may be. So, to help provide a differential diagnosis for us and create a differential treatment pattern, right, a protocol or apply a protocol based on whatever symptoms are being presented in this case, the sciatica. So, that’s why I see, I want to evaluate patients, excuse me, I want to evaluate patients and see if it’s truly sciatica. Once again, it may not be all the time in these instances, but from my clinical experience, usually the patients will also have the numbness, the burning, any kind of neuropathy associated with the sciatic nerve disturbance, and it will travel all the way down, all right, can I go halfway? Yes, right.
So, how do we view it in traditional Chinese medicine? Any impediment of the meridians, of the flow of the energy in the body, can cause pain, can cause issues. Whenever there’s any kind of numbness or burning sensation in traditional Chinese medicine, we associate that with a concept known as blood deficiency or a yin deficiency, which has to deal with the fluids, the nourishment in the body, which you can even liken it to when you fall asleep on your arm and your hands get numb, right, or your hand comes on where your arm becomes numb. That’s the sensation.
So Can Acupuncture Help With Sciatica?
So, going back to this, you know, how do we treat it? Do you provide more nourishment to the body? Yes, that includes acupuncture, that includes nutrition. There are certain foods that I will prescribe for patients to eat, to consume in order to help reduce the pain. And in my experience, it may take a few treatments, it may take a couple of weeks, it could be as soon as maybe the first treatment. It could be as little as two to three weeks where the patient will start seeing and experiencing the decrease of pain and starting to see the symptoms subside.
So, my goal is to always give patients an accurate view in terms of their condition and the treatment options they have available. Do I try to help patients avoid any kind of surgery? Yes, all the time, right? Acupuncture is a first-line therapy, so we try to use these therapeutics as well as herbs and emission herbs. I said nutrition, but not also herbs, which is different from nutrition. Nutrition is associated more with the daily foods that you eat, and the herbs are therapeutic in the sense that they’re being prescribed. So, they have different intentions, and they’re used… oh, same goal, right, to get you better, but how they’re used and consumed is different.
So, when you combine all this, it helps patients to get better. And I am a fan of multiple therapies. I have patients who are concurrently either seeing chiropractic care or currently undergoing physical therapy, and it all helps. We all put it together, right? The acupuncture can help, not just the needles, right? Applying or putting in the needles and applying the treatment, but acupressure or cupping or other modalities or something along those lines, right? If we need… something more intense, there’s electroacupuncture, which a lot of people are like, “I’ll try. I’m sure, another… something else for another day.”
But I hope this gives you a little bit of insight as an acupuncturist. Do we treat sciatica, and can acupuncture be a potential therapy for your sciatic pain? And the answer is yes. For more information, please visit csjacupuncture.com. You’re more than welcome to send me an email. reach me, send me an email. I will try to find you a referral wherever you are at.
Carlo St. Juste II, MAOM has a background in acupuncture with over 10 years of clinical experience and over 16 years in the Martial Arts. He has worked with various organizations to implement employee wellness programs including The City of West Covina, The City of Brea, Broadcom, USC, American Suzuki, and Pomona College. He is dedicated to promoting integrative health and has seen the benefits of knowledge and implementation first hand.