The sciatic nerve is formed by the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord into the lower back. On both sides of the body, the sciatic nerve goes through the buttock, branches extend down the back of the leg, to the ankle and foot.
If you have acute or chronic pain, tingling, or numbness that starts from the buttocks and goes down the leg it is possible you have an irritation of the sciatic nerve.
Here’s how a case of inflamed sciatic nerve looks:
Amanda, 63 yo, came slowly limping into the clinic yesterday, severely favoring one leg and barely able to move her head. Visually, she was so crooked, her shoulders were at two different levels.
Three months earlier, Amanda was rear ended by a car accelerating to 40 mph up an on-ramp to Rt. 50.
Amanda’s back and neck pain was getting worse after twice weekly chiropractic treatments, numerous trips to osteopaths, pain clinics, and ultimately even a neurosurgeon.
Desperate for a solution that didn’t include drugs or surgery, Amanda came for acupuncture.
She registered her pain at level 9 (with 10 being the worst) in her hip and down her leg; her neck was stiff and she had severely restricted range of motion; her shoulders were visibly out of alignment with one pulling down 1.5″ .
Amanda had a history that included an earlier car accident, chronic back pain, and 60# overweight. The recent car accident added whip-lash to her problems and exacerbated the existing back pain to now include pain running from her buttocks to her feet indicating an inflamed sciatic nerve.
Amanda’s treatment started with Cranial Sacral Therapy to calm the nervous system and help gently straighten her spine. We then started the acupuncture with low back needling, alternating hot packs with cool water bath along her leg, and followed with guasha across both shoulders, her neck and between her shoulder blades. Specifically for the whiplash, cupping over needles was done on one point on the back of each knee.
The treatment took an hour. After each therapy, we had Amanda get up and walk around to see how she was doing. Each time, the pain was diminished and she could walk easier.
Amanda was given 2 Yunnan Pai Yao tablets before the treatment and 2 tablets after the treatment, then a 10-day herbal formula for cooling inflammation in the body.
At the end of treatment, Amanda walked without hobbling, and she put her pain at level 5. She had a 100% improvement in the range of motion in her neck; and with tears in her eyes she said, “I really thought I was going to be disabled for the rest of my life. Thank you for giving me hope.”
Amanda’s excellent results are common with a full protocol treatment based on Chinese medicine. In 5 treatments she will be fully recovered, even with a history of chronic back pain.
Between treatments, Amanda can use home-care to improve the speed of recovery and then if she notices symptoms again, she will use the same home treatment protocol to prevent the pain from increasing.
Home Care for Sciatic Nerve Pain:
1. Foot Bath: Use a coffee grinder or blender to powder a large bottle (100-300 pills) of cheap uncoated aspirin. Add the entire batch to a bucket long enough to comfortably fit your feet. Add really hot tap water (but not too hot), enough to submerge your feet to the ankles. Soak for 40 minutes. Repeat for 4 days. Take a break for a week and repeat the treatment again. Saving the aspirin water between treatments will make the process convenient. Just add about a cup of boiling water to warm it up for your soak.
2. Cold/Hot: Fill a strong plastic zip-lock bag with tap water. Refrigerate the bag of water for a few hours so it’s nice and cold. Don’t freeze it. Run the bag along the side of your leg where you feel the pain and repeat this for 10 minutes until your skin feels cool to the touch. Store the bag in the refrigerator and repeat this several times a day for a few days (or just once if that’s all the time you have). After each cold water treatment, end with applying a warm wet washcloth over the area of pain.
These two very simple home treatments should be used after an exercise session or after a run, or whenever you feel the first signs of butt and leg pain.
We are experts in the use of acupuncture to treat chronic back pain; acupuncture for neck pain; acupuncture to treat infertility; acupuncture for weight loss; acupuncture detox cleansing; cosmetic acupuncture; and Thai massage. Our Arlington-based Northern Virginia acupuncture clinic has openings every day for new patients. Contact us today.