Alleviating the symptoms of sciatica with alternative treatments
Sciatica is a set of symptoms that begin in the lumbar spine (lower back) and travel to other areas of the lower body, such as the buttocks and legs, when the sciatic nerve is pinched.
When a disc in the spine or a bone spur places pressure on the sciatic nerve — a major nerve bundle that serves the lower back, buttocks, and both legs and feet — the symptoms and pain of sciatica can develop. These symptoms are typically felt on one side of the body and may include:
- Dull, sharp or burning pain
- Shooting pain felt through the buttock, leg and thigh (typically on one side of the body, but it may occur on both sides)
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty standing, walking or sitting
Sciatica symptoms can be severe and debilitating, and many cases of sciatica require some type of treatment to help alleviate the symptoms.
Alternative treatments for sciatica
Alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, biofeedback and herbal medicine, can help relieve the chronic and debilitating pain of sciatica without spine surgery. The most common alternative treatments used for sciatica include:
- Yoga and stretching
- Massage therapy
- Herbal supplements
- Biofeedback therapy
These treatments are more natural options for treating sciatica pain compared to pain medication and spine surgery. By researching these options and speaking with your physician, you can be confident about your decision for spine treatment.
What is acupuncture?
This ancient Chinese practice involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points (or meridians) on the body. Meridians are thought to be connected to certain parts of the body, including the lymphatic, nervous and cardiovascular systems. The practice of inserting needles into these meridians is said to unblock the body’s energy and restore a healthy flow.
How does acupuncture affect sciatica?
Patients with sciatica may reap the benefits of acupuncture, which some claim to include decreased pain, improved immune function and a decreased need for pain medications. As with all treatments (both conventional and alternative), acupuncture should only be performed by a licensed practitioner with sterile equipment.
What else can I do to treat sciatica?
While acupuncture is not fully accepted by mainstream medicine, you still can speak with your primary care physician to find out if acupuncture can help you better manage your symptoms of sciatica.
Alternative treatments can be most effective when used alongside conventional medicine, so ask your physician about other methods of treatment you can try, such as physical therapy and lifestyle changes, to help expedite your pain relief.
If you’ve found that conservative and alternative treatments are not providing you with lasting relief, contact Laser Spine Institute for information about our minimally invasive spine surgery used to treat sciatica. To date, our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. Many causes of sciatica can be addressed with a decompression procedure that simply removes a small piece of the spine that is compressing the sciatic nerve. However, if the spine is severely damaged, a stabilization procedure may be needed to insert an artificial disc and/or bone graft into the spine to stabilize the damaged area. Our patients experience a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication compared to patients who choose traditional open back surgery.
For more information about the benefits of Laser Spine Institute, contact us today and request a review of your MRI report or CT scan.