According to the National Institutes of Health, right around 80% of Americans now suffer or will suffer from some form of lumbar pain at some point in their lives. That’s a fantastic number; 4 out of every 5 Americans is or will be struggling with some form of lower back pain. This finding implies that lower back pain is second only to headaches as the most common neurological disorder in America.

There are, of course, numerous causes for lower back pain, only a few of which are structural in nature. Commonly diagnosed under the umbrella of sciatica, lower back pain presents itself most often because of an injury or strain to the soft tissue supporting the spine causing inflammation pressure around the sciatic nerve. In other, less frequent cases, spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column, or a bulging or herniated disc is the cause of the problem.

Because there are many potential causes for lower back pain, there is no ‘standard’ treatment available. Acupuncture for Sciatica relief is growing in popularity and people that have tried it generally sing its praises.

Numerous controlled studies, in which the experimental group gets the treatment while the control group doesn’t, have shown that acupuncture is an effective and reliable therapy for pain relief. A meta-analysis, a scientific comparison of many studies, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that acupuncture is significantly more effective than no treatment at all.

Acupuncture: How it Works

Asian medicine is based on a theory that the human body consists of channels that allow the ‘life force’ or ‘chi’ to circulate. When these channels become blocked as the result of stress or disease the general health of the person is compromised. Acupuncture seeks to unblock these channels by sticking thin needles in the affected channels thereby allowing the ‘chi’ to once again flow freely.

Being an important component of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is used to actually treat any number of diseases throughout Asia. For the past 40 to 50 years acupuncture is gaining traction in Western medicine also.

The Science Behind Acupuncture

In a recent study (Carlsson and Sjlund), 50 subjects, 33 women and 17 men, all of whom suffered from chronic low back pain for six-months or more, were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The experimental groups received either acupuncture treatments or electro-acupuncture treatments while the control group received placebo therapy. After four treatments and one additional follow-up treatment after 2 months, the acupuncture group reported the most important changes in pain relief. This study concluded that “there is now reasonable evidence that acupuncture has a clinically relevant pain-relieving effect on certain forms of chronic pain.”

While interesting, a small study of 50 patients does not provide enough ‘scientific’ evidence to draw a generalizable conclusion. More controlled research is needed to ‘prove’ the effectiveness of acupuncture as a therapy. Other small studies point to the same conclusion as the Carlsson and Sjlund study. Taken together, these studies have a tendency to support the finding that acupuncture is an excellent therapy for pain relief in many cases of chronic low back pain.

Anecdotal evidence also points to the efficacy of acupuncture as a therapeutic benefit to controlling the pain of sciatica. People who’ve undergone this type of therapy most of the time tell stories of success at controlling and even eliminating their chronic pain. Put the 2 together, the scientific studies and the human success stories and I suggest that acupuncture for sciatica is obviously worth a try.

Sciatica is among the more common ailments affecting many people during the course of their lifetime. According to the National Institutes of Health in the United States, it is the second most common neurological disease reported. Only headache surpasses it in frequency of reported cases. Its cause is varied; it can be as innocent as a simple muscle strain or injury to more complicated issues such as disc problems, spinal stenosis, osteoporosis, or malignant tumors. In many cases acupuncture for sciatica pain relief and other natural remedies are all that is needed to relieve the pain of this common condition.

If you have lower back pain it is wise to pay a visit to your family doctor because only your doctor can rule out the more serious causes of your sciatica pain. Additionally, when addressed early and met head on, there is no form of sciatica that cannot be easily attacked so that you can find relief from pain. If, as is most likely, your pain is caused by a strain or injury to your lower back, treatments available are both numerous and straightforward. You may choose to approach your pain in a traditional way, with exercises to strengthen your core muscles and pain relief medication or, as many are now doing, approach your therapy in a more holistic, natural way. Among the holistic approaches available are acupuncture, herbal medicine, and non-invasive natural methodologies.

The choice of natural therapies, especially for cases of injury or strain, offer powerful pain relief with none of the side effects common with drug therapy. Natural approaches to pain relief are generally less expensive and more conservative than traditional medical approaches to the problem of lower back pain. Taking NSAIDs for pain over long periods, for example, a traditional approach, can leave you with liver damage, bleeding ulcers and may even cause death from complications of these side effects. Some prescription medications relieve pain by dulling pain receptors in the brain. A client of mine who was on Ultram for pain once described the pills as “stupid pills” because of the way it made him feel.

Natural Therapies for Lower Back Pain

Acupuncture: Traditional Chinese medicine which includes acupuncture as a fundamental treatment option is based on the idea that the Chi or life force can become blocked, that the channels that distribute Chi throughout the body can be opened through the proper insertion of thin needles at the precise points that control the Chi for your particular complaint. In many cases, acupuncture combined with a basic program of exercise is enough to restore you to pain-free living in a few weeks.

Many people swear by this natural, homeopathic product. Made from botanical ingredients like willow bark, lobelia and boswellia, Eazol acts to lubricate your joints and relieve stress in muscle. It also acts as a safe analgesic to relieve pain.

Yoga: The Indian program of posture control and meditation is a form of exercise that, when guided by an expert can help relieve the pain of lower back sciatica. There is no age or gender limitation on the practice of yoga.

Hot Baths: While ice is perfect for reducing inflammation, heat serves to relax inflamed muscle tissue and act as an immediate source of relief for pain. Add movement such as that of a whirlpool and add hot bath oils like eucalyptus or peppermint and the pain relieving essence of the oil just adds to the experience. Many people who try this experience hours of relief. Added to a routine of exercise, hot baths are a very real source of relief.

Vitamins and Minerals: There are many vitamins that are known to be quite effective for back pain relief including Vitamin B-12, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Chamomile and others.

So there you have it. Natural approaches to pain relief are a real option. Acupuncture for sciatica pain relief is a top choice but other natural choices are also available. Because every case is different you’ll have to see which ones work for you. Of course, don’t forget to always add exercise for your core.

Growing Use Of Acupuncture for Sciatica

Acupuncture Treatments

Acupuncture as a treatment method is more than 5,000 years old, and it was well documented in the ancient Chinese medical text “Huangdi Neijing,” written around 200 B.C. The practice was also used by cultures as diverse as the Eskimos and the African Bantu tribesmen, and it has long since moved beyond those areas to a worldwide population, with more than 8,000 practitioners in the United States alone.

Acupuncture is based on the belief that our life energy, or “ki,” which includes body, mind, spirit, and emotion, must flow uninterrupted through our body. If this energy flow becomes disrupted, diseases and other disorders occur. By placing small needles into specific spots along the body’s meridians, lines where blood and body energy converge, and by twirling, lifting, rotating, or making other precise movements, the balance can be restored to the body.

Medical acupuncture uses similar methods; however, medical acupuncturists focus on the physical aspects of the problem rather than restoring balance to the energy force running through the body.

Acupuncture for a sciatica nerve has a number of benefits:

1. It can improve blood circulation in the lumbar region and the spinal cord.

2. It relaxes muscles and provides flexibility and strength to the bones.

3. It can increase energy, pushing a person to be more active and healthy overall.

However, it is important to note that acupuncture for sciatica is not effective if degenerative diseases are involved. Acupuncture may provide some temporary relief of the condition by releasing pressure of the disc on nerves and muscles, but it cannot remove the disease entirely, but it cannot reverse the herniation of the disc.


Despite the longevity of the practice, and despite a great deal of anecdotal evidence to support acupuncture’s role in relieving sciatica pain, a study done by the Nordic Cochrane Centre and published in the British Medical Journal in 2009 concluded that acupuncture had “a small analgesic effect” but “whether needling at acupuncture points, or at any site, reduces pain independently of the psychological impact of the treatment ritual is unclear.” states that, “To date, there has been no conclusive scientific study that proves that acupuncture cures sciatica. If you decide to undergo acupuncture treatment for sciatica, it is advisable to talk to your doctor and go to a licensed acupuncturist.”

Holistic Approach

Still, Traditional Chinese Medicine has a long history of success, and it recommends that the best approach to treating sciatica is to use a combination style treatment. Overall, the treatment should relax and stretch the tendons and fascia while strengthening the muscles. By releasing the spastic muscles and strengthening them, acupuncture allows the back and nerves to heal naturally.

After you have used acupuncture for sciatica and the pain is gone, it is important for you to keep up treatment to prevent it from coming back. Stretching is an essential part of that treatment, as it will help keep the muscles healthy and relaxed. In addition, doing a gentle form of exercise, such as tai chi, the Chinese practice of exercise and meditation, is very effective to maintain the strength and health of the lower back and its related sciatica.

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