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Acupuncture for sciatica

There isn’t a week when our acupuncturist Rachel doesn’t see handful of cases of sciatica in her clinic.

A person with sciatica will have intense pain radiating from lower back or buttock to below the knee and into the foot. The pain from sciatica can stop a person from engaging in everyday activities such as walking, sitting and sleeping. The constant pain can also take its toll emotionally. People with back and leg pain are more likely to take time of work and take longer to recover than those with just back pain.

If you think that you have sciatica, the first thing you should do is see your GP. They are likely to prescribe you medication for the pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most frequently prescribed medication for sciatica, although you may also be prescribed codeine, morphine or tramadol.

Acupuncture is an option for people who would like to reduce the severity of pain, improve their mobility, without the side effects associated with medication. Acupuncture has been shown to be better for overall recovery than conventional care.

Studies have shown that acupuncture is more effective than medication (NSAIDs, e.g. ibuprofen) in reducing the severity of pain, improving motor function and quality of life, with fewer side effects. The World Health Organization recognises that acupuncture has been proven to be effective in the treatment of sciatica.

Acupuncture activates specific points along the body’s energy channels or meridians. Quite often the bladder and gallbladder channels are involved in the treatment of sciatica. The bladder channel runs from the base of the back, through the buttock, down to the back of the knee, before travelling down the outer edge of the calf and the foot. The gallbladder channel also travels from the sacrum, into the groin and then to the hip, down the outside of the leg and into the foot.

During an acupuncture treatment, fine sterile needles may be inserted into points along these channels and also at points away from the area of pain. I will often use a herb called moxa at certain points to increase the strength of the treatment and to provide the patient with some relief from the pain.

Over a series of treatments, patients tell me that the pain bothers them less, that they are more able to do everyday tasks and are sleeping better. They also tell me that they feel they are coping better with the pain and are in a better mood. It is so satisfying to hear patients tell me that they are sleeping in their own bed again, rather than on the living room floor, or have returned to work.

If you would like to have acupuncture for sciatica, then please get in touch by calling Rachel Edney on 07815 097473 or email her


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