A 52-year-old man came to our clinic suffering from severe sciatic pain in his left hip and leg. He had developed this pain four months earlier while working out at the gym. Physical therapy and chiropractic care had not helped, nor had two corticosteroid injections. This sciatica acupuncture case study describes how acupuncture resolved his pain and got him back on his feet again.
What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a common, yet misunderstood, form of pain that impacts up to 40 percent of the population at some time in their lives. It is mistakenly confused with low back pain. Sciatica always involves the sciatic nerves, which happen to be the body’s two largest nerves, running from the low back, through the hips, down the legs, and into the feet and toes.
Pain is triggered when the sciatic nerve is compressed, pinched or irritated. The two most common culprits compressing the sciatic nerves are bulging discs and muscles in spasm. Sciatic pain can be intense, and can affect anywhere along the pathway of the nerve. So it is common to have pain in the hip and also in the leg, calf or foot.
A lesser known fact about sciatica is that, unlike back pain, sciatica does not heal well on its own. It tends to linger. Such was the case with our patient in this sciatica acupuncture case study. He had been doing leg squats at the gym when he heard a “snap”. What followed next was the most excruciating pain running from his hip, down his leg, and into his foot. Months later he was still suffering.
Sciatica Acupuncture Case Study
Our initial assessment indicated that his pinched nerve was due to piriformis syndrome, which simply means that the piriformis muscle in his hip was in spasm. The spasm was impinging his sciatic nerve, triggering pain. Acupuncture’s approach to treating sciatica with this presentation involves three steps.
First, release the piriformis muscle and help restore its normal function. We do this by needling into the motor point of the muscle. This is what physical therapists attempt to do with “dry needling”. Acupuncturists do it safer and better, as we have proper training and much more experience needling muscles. Releasing the piriformis is an important first step. But it is critical to follow up with steps two and three, something dry needling fails to do.
Step two involves opening blocked channels to alleviate pain. Sciatica is known for causing pain that radiates from the low back and hips, down the legs, into the calves, and even to the feet and toes. Needling along the channels of the back, hips and legs helps heal inflamed and irritated nerves, easing pain. Combined with releasing the piriformis, opening channels brings tremendous pain relief to sciatica patients.
Thirdly, acupuncture increases qi and blood circulation throughout the body to assist with the overall healing process. Damaged muscles and nerves need blood to heal. Poor circulation inhibits this process. Acupuncture dramatically enhances blood circulation throughout the entire body, especially in areas that have been injured.
Increasing qi circulation is not something that is familiar to most Americans, but it is even more important than good blood circulation. Qi is the source of blood and the root of blood circulation. Think of qi as electricity that makes our light bulbs shine and heaters hum. Qi is energy, the source of all life. Acupuncture boosts qi energy in the body, enhancing our healing capacity.
Putting It All Together
Combining muscle release, opening channels and boosting qi and blood circulation works like a charm to heal sciatica. And that’s just what it did for our patient in this sciatica acupuncture case study. Within four treatments his pain was 95% resolved and he was ready to start exercising again. We treated him once a week. Between treatments we asked him to take it easy, with no exercise or stretching. Stretching out the piriformis too soon can trigger the muscle to spasm again, something we were trying to avoid.
It’s been six months since our patient’s full recovery. He has regained full function and is back at the gym stronger than ever. His acupuncture treatments have actually made him less prone to reinjury. His muscles are more resilient now, and his qi and blood circulation more robust.
If you or someone you love have sciatica, try acupuncture.
For Quick Response Text Us:
Contact Us By Email
What our Clients are Saying
I’m a semi-professional weight lifter. I never had a problem until my hip went out doing squats. The pain was tremendous, like a sharp nerve pain down the back of my leg into the calf. It had sidelined me for two months while I tried unsuccessfully to work out the pain. Then a buddy suggested acupuncture. He had a similar hip pain and got relief at Raleigh Acupuncture. I went there and got treated. They told me to stop stretching until the injury was healed. I followed their instructions and got half a dozen treatments. The pain started easing after the first few treatments. I continued for another 6 treatments and was totally cured. I was able to get back to lifting with no residual effects of the injury. I’ve recommended this practice to a number of friends since that time and they all have had good experiences.
I have neuropathy that is a burning, tingling pain down my legs and into my feet. The doctor said there was nothing I could do besides pain medicine, since I am diabetic. The meds didn’t help much and made me feel groggy all the time. I tried acupuncture, after seeing a segment on Dr. Oz. I found Raleigh Acupuncture online and liked their website. They had alot of useful information. The treatments were interesting. They used electric acupuncture on my legs and feet that felt like a tingling massage. They said it would take a few treatments to start kicking in, and they were right. The burning pain slowly started to recede, and the tingling went away. I was truly amazed to feel such a difference in my legs and feet. I know so many people with neuropathy, and they are afraid to try acupuncture. I think they are crazy not to try it. What a difference not to be in constant pain anymore. I don’t need medication for my legs.
My doctor told me I had sciatica, but the only place I felt pain was on the side of my calf. It was terrible nerve pain that screamed all day and all night. I couldn’t exercise and it affected my sleep. I had to take pain killers every night just to fall asleep. I tried massage and physical therapy, but it didn’t help. So I tried acupuncture. They agreed with my doctor that it was sciatica. They treated my hip as well as my leg. And sure enough, the pain started easing after just one treatment. After 5 treatments it was gone. I don’t understand how treating the hip helped my leg pain, but it did. Thank you Raleigh Acupuncture!
Ever since my hip replacement I had terrible hip pain that radiated down my leg into my foot. They were talking about redoing the hip, which I didn’t want to do, so I tried acupuncture. The doctors at Raleigh Acupuncture were wonderful. They gave me lots of time and told me what they were doing. They got rid of 90% of my pain. I can live with that!
I’ve been suffering from sciatic pain for years, since I was in a car accident. I tried everything and nothing helped. I couldn’t walk right and had a bad limp. My son made me go to Raleigh Acupuncture (I am afraid of needles!). They told me they would treat me 4 times to see how I responded. Well, I responded great. I had to get 6 treatments to get rid of the pain. Now I walk fine (no limp) and feel all better. Great place!