Sciatica was the first health condition for which I sought treatment with acupuncture. I suffered sciatica related to piriformis syndrome, which manifested as glute and hamstring pain and stiffness. It would alternate sides from time to time, and I still experience bouts of it occasionally. I was in my early 20’s and a competitive runner, and running, particularly in colder weather, would set it off. Conventional treatments including heating pads, therapeutic ultrasound and stretching provided only a little relief, but acupuncture helped me significantly.
As an intern in acupuncture school, I treated several patients for sciatica. In my last semester interning I started utilizing distal point treatments, which involves placing acupuncture needles at points away from the area of pain. One of my patients had been suffering from sciatic pain in his lower back and along his iliotibial (IT) band and had great results from the treatments I gave him. I could hardly believe it myself, but the proof was right there in front of me. He was effusively thankful for the relief he received from those treatments, and eventually “graduated” from being treated before I was finished with my internship because his pain had resolved completely.
Many patients come to our clinic seeking treatment of sciatica. There are several causes and manifestations of sciatica; here’s a helpful guide by WebMD to learn more (note: slide 21 mentions acupuncture as a treatment option for sciatica).
Acupuncture is typically an effective way to treat sciatica
without drugs or side-effects. The
number of treatments needed for sciatica to resolve depends on how long the
sciatica has been occurring and how severe the pain is. Your acupuncturist can suggest a course of
treatments once you’ve discussed your health condition(s) together. A typical course of treatments for sciatica
would be 6 to 12 treatments, 1-3 times per week depending on the severity (1
for mild, 2 for moderate, 3 for severe; as the pain reduces, so does the
frequency). More frequent treatments are
recommended for getting relief more quickly, but when it’s hard to find the
time for frequent treatments, once a week often suffices for slower but steady
If you ever find yourself suffering from sciatica, remember
that it is definitely worth giving acupuncture a try!
People are often curious to know how acupuncture works. Many scientific studies have been done to understand the mechanisms behind acupuncture. Here we’d like to share with you links to several articles that explain the way acupuncture works in detail:
June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. In honor of this occasion and in order to help more people who suffer from migraines and headaches, we’d like to share some information with you about how acupuncture can help these conditions.
In our experience we find that acupuncture often reduces the frequency and severity of migraines and headaches. Of course we cannot guarantee it will work for every single patient who comes into our office, just like a specific medication can’t be guaranteed to help every patient who has a particular health condition. Overall, however, we feel confident in acupuncture for these conditions as we’ve had a lot of success helping our patients who suffer from headaches and migraines.
We frequently treat people for jaw pain/tension and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder related pain, typically with good results. Here’s a study showing the efficacy of acupuncture for TMJ disorders. Although this condition occurs in people all the time, there tends to be an increase in cases we see at this time of year, likely due to the seasonal shift to spring. Chinese medical theory recognizes the way seasons affect our health, and an interesting tendency at this time of year is for muscles and tendons in the head, neck and upper body to tense up. Symptoms of pain and tension in the jaw commonly occur along with headaches, neck and/or trapezius (tops of shoulders) pain and tension. The great news is acupuncture is helpful for all of these symptoms, so if you or someone you know is suffering with these discomforts, we suggest giving it a try.
February is American Heart Month and February 4th is World Cancer Day. In honor of these occasions we’d like to share with you some information about acupuncture for heart health and cancer support. We regularly treat people for these conditions with acupuncture.
Acupuncture is helpful for the reduction of symptoms that many cancer patients experience such as postoperative pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression, insomnia, chemotherapy and/or radiation-induced dry mouth, chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and hot flashes and night sweats in breast cancer patients. Acupuncture is increasingly becoming more common in cancer units of various hospitals. The Value of Acupuncture in Cancer Care is a scientific journal article featuring in-depth discussions on this topic.
We treat people for insomnia frequently and it is usually helpful for sleep quality and duration. Some might find that supplements could help their insomnia and look out for phenibut HCL capsules for sale or pay a visit to their doctor for help. Improved sleep is also often a common unintended “side effect”/benefit of acupuncture, even when the points used aren’t specific to assist with sleep (for example, someone may come in seeking treatment for knee pain and find that they sleep better after receiving acupuncture).
A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials showed acupuncture to be a promising treatment for insomnia. “Based on the results of meta-analyses, the majority showed that compared with no treatment, sham acupuncture, or medications, acupuncture was significantly better on improving parameters in sleep quality and duration, and the combination of acupuncture and other interventions appears more effective than those interventions alone, though it was possible that the beneficial effect from acupuncture is overvalued because of the small sample size, flawed methodology of the included trials and the short follow-up duration.”
Although there is more research to be done, we are confident in recommending acupuncture for the treatment of insomnia based on our own experience providing thousands of treatments over the past 10+ years and results from studies like the ones above. Acupuncture is low-risk, non habit-forming and a pleasurable, relaxing experience for most people.
The next time you are suffering from a bout of insomnia or jet lag, we recommend trying acupuncture to get your sleep back on track. For chronic insomnia, regular acupuncture treatments are typically helpful for improving sleep quality and duration. If you’d like to try acupuncture for sleep we can recommend a treatment plan (number of treatments and treatment frequency) based on your particular sleep patterns. Hopefully you’ll find yourself sleeping better and feeling better overall as a result.
We treat people with acupuncture for chronic pain every day at Acupuncture Together, usually with successful outcomes. Chronic pain is defined as any pain lasting 3-6 or more months. There are various types of chronic pain, such as pain from past injuries or surgeries, arthritis, nerve damage, headaches/migraines and fibromyalgia. According to WebMD, “the feeling of pain comes from a series of messages that zip through your nervous system. When you hurt yourself, the injury turns on pain sensors in that area. They send a message in the form of an electrical signal, which travels from nerve to nerve until it reaches your brain. Your brain processes the signal and sends out the message that you hurt. Usually the signal stops when the cause of the pain is resolved — your body repairs the wound on your finger or your torn muscle. But with chronic pain, the nerve signals keep firing even after you’ve healed.” As well as the use of acuppuncture, the idea of using products such as CBD Oil may be something worth looking into, especially if you are not a fan of needles. It won’t hurt to learn more about this, as you never know what can improve your health if you don’t try, early research is showing CBD lotions can help regulate pain which is something else to consider if you decided you wanted to take CBD in a different form. If you use any forms of CBD lotions or you instead smoke cannabis to help with any pain that you have, you might want to connect with other people who are in a similar situation through social media. If this is the case, you may want to visit cannabis-related social media sites to make this happen.
A meta-analysis of nearly 18,000 randomized patients in high quality randomized controlled trials (RCTs) provides solid evidence that acupuncture is a useful treatment for chronic pain. Acupuncture was shown to be more effective than both sham acupuncture and no acupuncture, with patients experiencing less back and neck pain, osteoarthritis and chronic headaches.
Acupuncture helps alleviate pain by activating the nervous system and stimulating the immune response. This article explains these processes nicely. Research has shown that acupuncture increases the response of opioid receptors, helping the body process its own endogenous opioids, thereby relieving pain. Studies have also been done on the use of acupuncture for autoimmune related pain. This study on arthritic mice showed acupuncture being effective for anti-arthritic, anti-inflammatory and immuno-regulatory affects of acupuncture with the stimulation of just one acupuncture point. More research is being done on the mechanisms of acupuncture, but we hope that this information is a good start in educating you about the efficacy of acupuncture for chronic pain.
If you’re struggling with chronic pain it is certainly worth trying acupuncture, and we at Acupuncture Together will do our best to help. With regular acupuncture treatments you may be able to reduce or possibly even eliminate your pain, or use acupuncture for pain management. With the reduction of pain you can live a fuller and more active life.
New blood pressure guidelines have recently been published. The new standard is 130/80, a significant decrease from the old standard of 140/90. The good news is that medical professionals are recommending lifestyle modifications in an effort to reduce and control blood pressure before trying medications. Healthy lifestyle habits include stress reduction, a healthy diet with less sodium and increased potassium (essentially more fruits/vegetables and less salt/processed foods), exercising regularly and getting enough sleep.
Where does acupuncture fit in? In terms of addressing lifestyle habits impacting blood pressure, acupuncture is great for stress reduction and for improving sleep quality (reducing frequency/severity of insomnia and restless sleep). There are also certain acupuncture points which can help directly with reducing blood pressure. This article discusses benefits of acupuncture for hypertension according to several studies, and the use of specific acupuncture points. One small scientific study showed that acupuncture was beneficial for hypertension in patients who were taking medication for hypertension, but whose hypertension wasn’t well controlled. A weekly acupuncture treatment is a great way to reduce and maintain healthier blood pressure levels.
Self care has become a trendy phrase, but it shouldn’t be considered a fad; rather, learning to be in touch with our physical and emotional needs and providing our bodies with timely care is a healthy long-term goal to have. Some self care is preventive (eating a balanced diet; regular exercise; getting enough sleep) and some is responsive (getting extra rest when you’re sick).
Where does acupuncture fit in? Acupuncture can be used as both preventive and responsive self care. Many of our patients find a weekly, biweekly or monthly acupuncture session to be a healthy preventive method of self care that keeps them feeling more relaxed, better able to cope with stress, sleeping more soundly or experiencing less pain. Others are so relieved when they can pop in for an acupuncture treatment on short notice for any number of things: relief after a stressful day, fatigue, a headache or migraine, acute pain, etc.
You can add acupuncture to your self care tool kit with other methods such as exercise, a warm bath or a nap. When your body is telling you it needs some relief, acupuncture may be just the thing that can help!