Acupuncture, a 3000 year old healing technique that originates from Chinese medicine, improves the function of the body through the promotion of the self-healing process.
This is done by stimulating certain anatomical points called “acupuncture points” or “acupoints”, through inserting fine, sterile needles into the skin.
Acupuncture, according to a number of case studies, is effective for a number of diseases including depression, headaches, knee pain, low back pain, sprain and many others.
What this article will address is the effectiveness of acupuncture in terms of helping with sciatic nerve pain, a condition that leads to pain, tingling or numbness as a result of irritation of the nerve roots leading to the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica is most commonly caused by a herniated disc. Other conditions like spinal stenosis, bone spurs, arthritis and nerve root compression, also act as symptoms of sciatica.
Effectiveness of Acupuncture in relieving Sciatic Nerve Pain
As a method of dealing with back pain, Acupuncture has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is recognized as an effective means of relieving back pain, Sciatic Nerve Pain included.
However, despite this, a report by The Guardian on 24th March 2016 gives a negative perspective, stating that Acupuncture is no longer a recommended method of treating lower back pain according to new draft guidelines released by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
According to the new draft, there was no consistent or compelling evidence of the effectiveness of acupuncture.
The use of acupuncture was formerly recommended as a form of treatment for back pain, but the new draft no longer recommends the treatment, advising against the use of acupuncture to manage lower back pain with or without sciatica.
Anecdotes in the Guardian’s report note that the previous guidelines provided by NICE conflicted with reliable evidence and that the use of spinal manipulation and acupuncture are not supported by good science when it comes to relieving lower back pain, with 30 randomised control trials that show the use of acupuncture, demonstrating that although it can appear to be effective, it was no better than a placebo.
The above article represents one perspective of acupuncture, which can vary widely. The variety of different opinions on acupuncture is shown in another Guardian article from April 4th, 2016, with some describing acupuncture as an effective treatment for back pain while others have described it as unpleasant and useless.
One individual named Andy Walton stated that he was initially pessimistic, but his back pain eased significantly following treatment.
However, another individual named Neil, who had spondylolisthesis, states that the treatment gave him constantly back pain with no positive effects, noting that if there was no evidence to support the effectiveness of acupuncture, then it should not be available on the NHS.
One particular element of Acupuncture that should be noted in terms of the negative image is that acupuncture with usual care can be quite effective for the short term, while the type of acupuncture that is described as “sham acupuncture” is worthless.
This is discussed even further by personal anecdotes by people who have experience with acupuncture.
For example, Catriona Mundle notes that she went to ten acupuncturists and two had a negative result or no effect at all. She notes that long-term treatment is needed for improvements that last a long time.
This perspective is backed up by Alice who believes that people should look at the range of acupuncture available to them, stating that osteopaths, chiropractors, physios, and doctors have only practiced after a brief course while traditional acupuncturists have long-term experience with the minimum being three years.
The Best Acupuncture for Sciatic Nerve Pain
Since the effectiveness of acupuncture is based on the experience of those performing acupuncture, the best thing to do is to do research and find the best acupuncture service for you.
The following are a set of organizations that are proven to have a vast amount of experience in the area of acupuncture. Yaoshen Cai is a service that, based on 68 reviews, has 5/5 stars and mostly positive reviews.
One user who had experienced chronic back pain for years went to this company and stated that while other acupuncturists have put 5 to 10 needles in their back, there was no effect, but with Yaoshen, it only took one try and their back pain.
Although they are not back to the way that they used to be, they no longer suffer from back pain after going to this acupuncturist.
Another user who had been suffering from problems with their lower back for ten years lost the pain instantly after their first visit to Yaoshen.
They note that after six months since their visit, their lower back is still free from pain and they will still go back if their back ever hurts again.
Another Acupuncture service that is well-revered is Acupuncture Japonia, which, according to 35 reviews, has five starts on the Yelp website.
One user who initially went to the service for sciatica along with diabetic neuropathy pains was impressed by the ability of the employees at the service to listen to people and he noted that after 3 treatments, the Sciatica was gone.
They were amazed by the efficiency of the treatments and recommends that people book an appointment with the service.
Another user who provided a positive review stated that they have been having back pain since 2011, and it was discovered that after an x-ray that they had scoliosis.
Their pain continued and worsened which resulted in it being painful to go over bumps when driving and wanting to go to sleep when they got home due to the pain.
They tried a chiropractor at first, but after a $2000 contract, the results were none and a friend recommended Acupuncture Japonica and after three visits they do not even think about pain anymore, nor do they go home exhausted from chronic lower back or hip pain.
In conclusion, Acupuncture can be effective for Sciatica. However, this is highly dependent on the service that is available.
As shown by anecdotal reports from the Guardian and Yelp, the quality of the service available determines the effectiveness of the acupuncture.
A regular well-trained service will provide excellent results while others are unlikely to present any results.