According to the British Acupuncture Council website ‘an estimated 5%-10% of patients with low back pain have sciatica’. Sciatica is defined as leg pain, numbness or weakness that starts in the low back and travels down the sciatic nerve in the leg causing sciatica pain. Indicators that an individual is suffering from sciatica include leg pain that is greater than low back pain; pain radiating to the foot or toes, numbness and paraesthesia; increased pain on straight leg raising, and neurological symptoms limited to one nerve root
Acupuncture aims to help relieve sciatica stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to the release of endorphins and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord. The stimulation of specific acupoints will also aid in improving muscle stiffness and overall joint mobility by increasing microcirculation to decrease inflammation and swelling.
The British Acupuncture Council shows supporting evidence for using acupuncture to help sciatica with a recent clinical study showing ‘evidence that acupuncture is more effective than no treatment and strong evidence that acupuncture is a useful supplement to other forms of conventional therapy’.