Does acupuncture really help with sciatica?

Question about acupuncture..

My husband has lower back pain radiating to his left leg. he is in absolute agony & the strongest analgesic does not help. [the next level of pain killer would be morphine.] Does acupuncture really help & how effective is it?

Answers in ‘Comments’ below…

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10 Responses to “Does acupuncture really help with sciatica?”

  • laurel g

    That totally depends on how great your acupunture Dr. is. I had one from China, and he could heal me, period. My husband had water on the elbow and he cured that. I had an asthma attack, my personal physician told me to go to the E.R., or I’d die. I didn’t have insurance, so I went to Dr. Tuan, instead. He, totally, made my lungs able to breath, normally. My physican called my home, mad at me for not going to E.R., he had checked. I told him I was fine, now, and explained what I’d done. He ordered me to return to his office, so he could check me out. I went, and my Dr. was in total shock that I could be so well, so suddenly. Seriously, if we had pain, our acupuncturist simply took it away.

  • dave

    If he has severe pain, then acupuncture won’t help. Anyone who says it does is more interested in taking your money than helping your husband.

    I agree 100% with Rhianna, beware of those scammers who just want your cash and make sure you consult a properly qualified doctor (not some ‘acupuncturist’ who thinks they are qualified to treat people because they read a book on it once).

  • Gary Y

    Perhaps your may husband may get a positive effect, provided you don’t tell him that acupuncture is really a placebo treatment.

    Personally I’d be going to a musculoskeletal doctor.

  • Curious George, C.Ac

    Rajini A,

    I have treated a a number of people suffering from sciatica with Acupuncture with great results. Acupuncture is a therapy process that does take a course of treatments, but most people with sciatica do experience some reduction in pain after the first treatment. By 4 to 6 treatments most people with sciatica are experiencing significant reductions in pain.

    I will caution that in cases where the sciatica is a result of severe disc herniation the reduction in pain is less permanent because of the degree of impingement on the nerve.


    Yes, it worked for many people, i think the skill of acupunturist is most important. Find the correct position of acupuncture point and find the cause of sciatica could be the key.

  • Kak

    he has to follow holistic healing method…should avoid milk ,curd,buttermilk,cofffee,tea,nonveg,fish,eggs for 20 days..he can also use a sheet …write me…

  • Mr E

    the origin of nerve interference typically is in the upper neck, though there may at times be secondary causes. to check for nerve interference, see an hio method chiropractor.

  • Theresa

    I haven’t’ tried acupuncture for sciatica, although it is very good for relaxation which may help.

    My chiropractor showed me a stretch to relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve. I used it once or twice a day and now have no sciatic pain – none for 7 years.

    Difficult to describe, but I’ll try:

    You can do this lying in bed, on your side. Use the leg you are lying on for balance. Take the top leg, keeping it straight, and bring it towards the front and across your body i.e. to the other side. This will stretch the muscles down the back of your leg and lower back that can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. To help with the stretch, wrap a towel around your foot and gently pull upwards to get more stretch. This is easier than trying to use your muscles to get the stretch. I found it best if I had a hot shower beforehand.

    Good luck

  • thenoseknows

    Absolutely. It’s one of the best holistic treatments for muscle/nerve pain. It’s also good to combine with chiropractic, so if you can find a chiropractor who does acupuncture, you’re way ahead of the game.

  • Rhianna Returns

    There is no good evidence that it does, no. Exercise and physical therapy is very beneficial, a physiotherapist might help too. They can teach you exercises that strengthen the muscles,which will support your back and improve flexibility of the spine. A chiropractor/Osteopath migh actually be of some (be it, limited) benefit here. They might be able to reduce pressure or compression on your nerves. I’m skeptical about whether they can actually do this, however, a nice back massage is relaxing. Be careful of any Chiro who tells you he can manipulate your spine though. It is physically impossible for anyone to generate the amount of force needed to actually manipulate the spine.

    Acupuncture is based on a traditional Chinese philosophy that health is dependent on the body’s motivating energy called ‘qi’ moving through a series of meridians beneath the skin. This of course has no factual, rational or indeed scientific basis. It is a metaphysical concept.

    Like homeopathy, this is at last being seriously questioned and rejected by the scientific community. It has most of its devotees among those with the vaguer and ill defined symptoms, rather than those with specific disease entities. Subjective issues such as back pain and nausea etc. have always been soft targets for alternative therapies and it is here where they appear to have most effect. It has been suggested that acupuncture triggers endorphin release, (the body’s natural morphine analogue,) in much the same way as exercise and in this was induces a feeling of wellbeing. It is still possible that needle sticks may do this.

    The most common ailment acupuncture is used for is probably back pain; but in a meta-analysis NOTHING came out very effective in dealing with back pain. Whether you saw a GP, a physiotherapist, an acupuncturist, an orthopaedic surgeon an osteopath, a chiropractor or a faith healer etc, more or less the same percentage of patients got better over time anyway.

    However, 2 double blind cross over studies showed that these random needle sticks had an exactly analogous placebo effect, around 70% to ‘correctly’ administered acupuncture for pain. This 70% is a classic figure, given for placebo effect in pain relief and would suggest that acupuncture itself has no additional effect above and beyond placebo.

    To suggest as the ‘Alties’ that just because something has been around a long time it must work is a nebulous argument, the appeal to tradition, which in no way guarantees efficacy. However, there is no doubt that it contributes to the ‘power’ of the placebo effect as does of course the large amount of theatrics involved.

    Even used as a placebo acupuncture is not without risk. In the late 90’s a systematic review showed that there were documented cases of deaths after acupuncture, some due to septicaemia, cardiac tamponade and one induced an acute asthmatic attack. Also there have been cases of infections such as hepatitis B, HIV and sub-acute bacterial endocarditis and spinal cord injury.

    Conclusion? Hang on to your money. Conventional medicine unquestionably has its limitations, but at least it is increasing based on rational study and reproducible results.