Sciatica is a syndrome rather than a specific diagnosis. In 90% of cases, sciatica is caused by a herniated disc with nerve-root compression. A number of risk factors are thought to be associated with first-time incidence of sciatica and influence the development of sciatica; these include smoking, obesity, occupational factors, health status, age, gender, and social class
Since the early 1990s, original studies have reported the efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of sciatica. Medication and physical therapy are used as the initial treatment options for pain control. However, there is little evidence for the efficacy of pain medication. Several systematic reviews have analyzed the efficacy and safety of various drugs such as opioids and steroids, but the validity of the studies is limited. Furthermore, the use of pain medication has been associated with adverse effects such as sedation, dizziness, ataxia, and nausea. Similarly, there is little evidence for the efficacy of invasive surgeries such as lumbar discectomy and epidural steroid injections.
Acupuncture triggers the release of endorphins into the blood stream. Simply put, endorphins are your body’s natural pain relievers. As such, their release decreases your perception of pain. Similarly, the Gate Control Theory may play a role in our effectiveness at reducing pain. This theory asserts that pain signals travel slowly from the area of injury to the spinal cord into the brain because the nerves can only handle a limited number of signals at once. Acupuncture generates faster signals to crowd out the slow-moving pain signals, which reduces pain. Often, the relief is immediate.
Sciatica is a general diagnosis. Acupuncture and our other therapies may achieve the goal of keeping life, sleep, and daily tasks comfortable. Other times treatment relieves pain and improves function 80-100%. Only by giving our treatments a chance will you find out what it can do for you.