Back Pain & Sciatica

Back pain is something most people will feel at least once in their lifetime. It can range from discomfort to excruciating electric pain that is all consuming. It does have a lot of causes. The following are some examples:

• Posture – bad habits or congenital scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
• Muscle over-use and tightness
• Repetitive strain e.g. A brick layer laying bricks; computer users clicking the mouse
• Sporting activities e.g. skiing, running, impact sports, rugby.
• Age-related degenerative change.
• Tumours and cancers

Once there is muscular imbalance in the back, it will cause tightness. The more the muscles tighten up the more discomfort is felt. There are several structures that are very important in the back: the vertebrae or back bone, the ribs, and the discs that sit between the vertebrae. The spinal cord, part of the central nervous system, is also very important. It relays all the messages coming from the brain to all the muscles and organs in the body. The discs are made of cartilage connective tissue. They act like little shock absorbers. Unfortunately they can get injured, either from wear and tear or an event such as a sudden impact. If the disc becomes damaged it can extrude into the spinal nerves and compress them. The loss of disc height can make the vertebrae compress on one side. This can also lead to the spinal nerves being compressed. Why is this important? Well, a pinched or compressed nerve is very painful. It is distinguished by sharp electric pain.  Sciatica, shooting pain down the buttock and back of the leg, is a good example of this.

Acupuncture is very helpful in this situation. The treatments include taking a detailed clinical history and examination of the back. This can involve various muscle tests and postural analysis. The focus of the treatment is to release the specific spinal segments that are creating the spinal compression.

Acupuncture releases the tightness in the small muscles of the spine to help create more space for the nerves. Diagnosis and treatment is based upon identifying the specific imbalances in the muscles and the body as a whole. Hence, acupuncture allows the body’s own mechanisms to heal itself. It also aims to create better spinal alignment for improved biomechanical movement.

Remedial massage is usually also helpful for this situation. It consolidates the acupuncture treatment and helps with manual tissue release. However, in some really acute circumstances we recommend acupuncture on its own as too much hands-on manipulation can actually aggravate the irritation and inflammation. This can cause pain symptoms to temporarily increase. Acupuncture in almost all cases will be helpful in the treatment of sciatica and back pain.

In acute cases the body can respond to treatment very rapidly. One or two treatments may be all that is necessary. For long-standing or more chronic injuries, a course of acupuncture may be necessary. We usually recommend four sessions, at least once a week, to gauge the response. Then reassess to see whether further treatments are necessary. It is also recommended to have regular “tune up” or maintenance treatments to help prevent a severe attack re-occurring. This ranges from monthly to 3 monthly treatments.

If you would like to make an appointment please contact us

To view a short demonstration of an acupuncture lumber treatment please check the videos section of the website.


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