Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on positive and negative energies generated by food intake, environment and lifestyles. Acupuncture is one of its mainstays for sciatica nerve treatment. Despite its popularity and effectiveness in many cases, acupuncture has not undergone much scrutiny from the researchers. There are many stories that tell us about the immediate relief and permanent cure that acupuncture is capable of. The fact is that success stories get advertised while incidents where acupuncture failed to treat do not get published unless there is an unfortunate happening. Like all alternative treatments, acupuncture does not have the backing of drug companies as there is nothing in it for them.
Conventional medicine believes that sciatica can be caused by one or more of the following reasons:
- A compression of the sciatic nerve that exits from the base of the spine
- Compression of the sciatic nerve due to a slipped disc due to trauma or a natural process
- Degenerative disc disease
- The narrowing of the spinal cord due to the natural ageing process
- Improper postures
- A pinched nerve due to trauma or inflammation in the piriformis muscle (known as pseudo-sciatica)
There may be some other reasons for sciatica, but TCM classifies sciatica pains based on different parameters. The three kinds of sciatica pain that TCM identifies are listed below:
- Sciatica pain that gets aggravated by cold or damp weather.
- Sciatica pain that is worse in the evening and better in the morning but aggravated by fatigue.
- Sciatica pain that is worse in the morning but aggravated by sitting still.
These parameters are used to identify the organs in the body that have been affected by negative energies and the meridians related with them are earmarked. For example, meridians between the lower back to heels are indicated when the pain is aggravated due to a damp or cold weather. Similarly, where the pain is worse in the evening and aggravated due to fatigue, a deficiency in liver or kidney function is indicated. If the pain is worse in the morning, an acupuncture expert looks at reasons related to stagnation of blood due to trauma, postural problems or some structural issue that is pinching or irritating the sciatic nerve.
This understanding helps the expert to identify the exact pressure points that need to be worked on. The expert may insert sharp sterilized needles along the path of the pain to unblock energy (Qi). This process is believed to spread out the external pathogen and activate Qi energy to eliminate pain. The specialist may also advise application of heat on the meridian points, exercise and herbs as part of the overall sciatica alternative remedies.
It is a matter of personal preferences whether to look towards acupuncture or stick to conventional drugs that have to be taken with care due to their notorious side effects. Some of the other sciatica alternative remedies like exercise, homeopathy, yogic postures and herbs are equally effective and deserve consideration. This is especially important because sciatica treatment can prove to be a lifelong process at times.
Sciatica may be a symptom and not a disease, but the pain is excruciating and may result in immobilization of the patient. The condition requires effective pain management. Natural modes of pain relief are indeed better than a prolonged use of pain relieving drugs.