Sciatica is a painful condition that results in pain in the gluteus region, usually on one side, with pain that can then travel down the back of the leg and/or the side of the leg. The condition of Sciatica can make all positions of the body painful, sitting, standing, walking etc. The sciatic nerve is a very large nerve that comes off the spinal cord. Often the reason it gets irritated is due to the gluteus muscles becoming very tight and squeezing the nerve. In cases of acute sciatica stretching and massage can actually be painful and irritate the condition more. That is when acupuncture is the right tool to resolve the problem.
Acupuncture works by moving energy along meridians in the body without having to physically move the tissue. Massage creates friction which can hurt when sciatica is in an acute state. Acupuncture does the job without friction. An additional tool I often use with acute sciatica beyond just the very very fine acupuncture needles, is an electro acupuncture machine. It’s just a small machine about the size of a box of tissues. I use little cords to clip to the fine needles once they are resting in the troubled area. The machine creates a rhythmic pulse in the tight tissues interrupting the muscle spasm and helping the muscle fibers to return back to their natural resting length. This treatment is quite relaxing and many patients fall asleep. With severe sciatica that has been going on for some time, a series of sessions may be required to get complete recovery. You will likely feel immediate relief after just one treatment. The reason multiple sessions may be needed is we need to repeat the message to the body because it can easily fall back on its overly tight state at first.
Once the acute state is past, massage therapy can be a wonderful support treatment for the gluteus muscles, the leg muscles and the back muscles. The real art in treating sciatica effectively is knowing which tool to use for each stage of recovery. Usually sciatica is a pretty easy problem to treat whether acute or chronic, mild or severe. You don’t have to be in pain! If you have any questions I would love the opportunity to answer them. Feel free to contact my practice Casco Bay Acupuncture & Massage in Portland, Maine for a complimentary phone consultation.