Sciatica & Nerve pain
Heal Your Body and Soul
Relieve Sciatica & Nerve Pain with Chinese Medicine
The sciatic nerves are the largest nerves in your body. They start in your low lumbar spine and travel down through the buttocks, the leg, and all the way through the soles of your feet and your toes. At its largest, the sciatic nerve is roughly the diameter of a pen.
Sciatica happens when the nerve itself or a root that forms the nerve becomes pinched. This is usually the result of a ruptured or slipped disk in the back that puts pressure on the nerve or root, causing pain to radiate down some or all of the sciatic nerve. Osteoarthritis can also contribute to sciatica by narrowing the exit from the lower spine through which the nerve passes. As a result, sciatica is more common in older adults.
CHINESE MEDICINE AND SCIATICA
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees sciatica as an imbalance in the body. While this refers more to the energy pathways of the body, it’s true that sciatica is caused by an imbalance— usually a herniated disk. TCM, therefore, has three different treatment options for sciatica. TCM practitioners determine which treatment is right on a case-by-case basis, ensuring that the patient gets the correct treatment for their particular situation.
Acupuncture is the use of small, sterilized needles placed in the body to relieve pain by promoting proper alignment of the body. Some feel that the healing effects are due to the flow of energy promoted by acupuncture, while others believe that the effects are neurological in nature. One thing is sure: studies show acupuncture effective in treating some types of pain.
A review of the efficacy of acupuncture in treating sciatica showed promising results. One study showed a 94% improvement after only four treatments. Another study showed 72% cured and a 7.1% marked improvement.
One of the major causes or irritants of sciatica, according to TCM, is a Wind-Cold-Damp Bi obstruction. Essentially what this means is that outside forces such as cold, wind, and dampness can affect the body’s Qi (energy). When the body’s Qi is affected, illness and misalignment can creep in unobstructed.
One of the ways to relieve pain from sciatica is through herbal medicine that warms the body and fights off the wind, cold, and dampness so the body’s energy can return to normal.
There are many different herbs used for these purposes, depending on the particular malady. For sciatica, a couple of herbs include Dipsacus (Xu Duan), for pain relief and stiffness, and eucommia (Du Zhong) for backache. For more herbs and their healing properties, check out Joint Vitality.
Another common TCM for treating sciatica is acupressure. The sessions can last anywhere from half an hour to several hours, depending on the patient and the severity of the pain. Sometimes hot and cold therapy as well as herbal ointments are used in conjunction with massage therapy.