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Acupuncture for Sciatica in Bristol

Sciatica is the name given to any sort of pain that is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet.

When something compresses or irritates the sciatic nerve, it can cause a pain that radiates out from your lower back and travels down your leg to your calf At each level of the lower spine a nerve root exits from the inside of the spine and then comes together to make up the large sciatic nerve.

Sciatica is different to general back pain; the pain of sciatica hardly affects the back at all but radiates out from the lower back, down the buttocks and into one or both of the legs, right down to the calf.

The main causes of sciatica are a slipped (herniated) disc, spinal stenosis and piriformis syndrome. Other causes are  injuries.

Slipped discs occur due to a weakening of the disc overtime. The disc centre herniates or leaks out through the outer core of the disc which then irritates the nerve as it exits the spine. The sciatic nerve can run next to or sometimes through the piriformis muscle which is located in the buttock. If this muscle is tight it can compress the nerve causing sciatic symptoms. Piriformis syndrome is accompanied by restricted movement in the hip joint

Acupuncture treatment for sciatica

The way I treat sciatica is a combination of different approaches I have learnt over the years.  To begin with a complete overview of how and when the problem first started. The patient may have had previous treatment and diagnosis’s which must be taken into account along with lifestyle and work lifestyle.

 Next the physical examination will look at how at spinal alignment and various muscle tests to determine how these are functioning. Other tests may be used to aid my diagnosis. Sciatica can often be multifaceted problem involving one of more misalignments and muscle tightness/imbalances all of which need to be addressed in order to make a full recovery. Treatment involves a combination of approached which when combines have a great effect and long lasting results.

I use an advanced massage technique to decompress the spine which also acts to create movement within the spine. This allows the potential compression fn the nerves coming from the spine to be released providing relief.

Another technique I use is another advanced massage technique called soft tissue release which acts to release the soft tissues around the problematic area. It is also a soft and gentle way to restore normal functioning to muscles.

Stretching tight restricted areas is crucial to the treatment of sciatica as the piriformis and gluteal muscles can all act to compress the sciatic nerve. Stretching also decreasing neural tension in the sciatic nerve.

Acupuncture will also be used to release deep tension within the muscular system allowing it to return to a more relaxed state. Acupuncture can help relieve back pain and sciatica by:

stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987, Zhao 2008).reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003).improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling.causing a transient change in sciatic nerve blood flow, including circulation to the cauda equine and nerve root.

This response is eliminated or attenuated by administration of atropine, indicating that it occurs mainly via cholinergic nerves (Inoue 2008).influencing the neurotrophic factor signalling system, which is important in neuropathic pain (Dong 2006).increasing levels of serotonin and noradrenaline, which can help reduce pain and speed nerve repair (Wang 2005).improving the conductive parameters of the sciatic nerve (Zhang 2005).promoting regeneration of the sciatic nerve (La 2005)Finally at the end of the treatment I often I use a taping technique called myofascial taping which has given some great results as many patients report back how much pain relief it has given them.

Kinseo tape has a number of functionsRe-educate the neuromuscular systemReduce painEnhance performancePrevent injuryPromote improved circulation and healing

An example of kinseo taping for low back pain is given below.

Finally it’s crucial that the patient is involved in their recovery. A key part of that recovery is to stretch key areas that may be contributing to the problem. Stretches will always be demonstrated first and then the patient will be asked to perform the stretch. Examples of such stretches are given below.

Treatment is usually weekly to begin with and at each session progress is monitored at each session. For chronic back problems the NICE guidelines recommends twelve treatments over a ten week period. You do not need to suffer with sciatic pain so if you if you are looking for sciatic pain relief in Bristol please contact me for a free consultation or simply to discuss if acupuncture treatment is for you.

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