Millions of Americans suffer from sciatica and are searching for effective treatments that will provide pain relief. In this article, we’ll explore dry needling for sciatica and outline what you should know if you are considering this treatment.
Before we can discuss dry needling for sciatica, it’s important that we describe what exactly sciatica is. Sciatica is a term used to refer to pain that radiates down the back of the leg along the path of the sciatic nerve. This pain can be diffused from the lower back through the hips and buttocks. Typically, sciatica only affects one side of the body. Sciatica typically occurs when a part of the sciatic nerve is compressed by a:
• Herniated disk
• Bone spur on the spine
• Narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis)
Pain from sciatica can be very severe, but it usually varies across patients (some describe it as an ache, while others describe sharp pains). Some risk factors for sciatica are:
• Age: Age-related changes in the spine, such as herniated disks and bone spurs, are the most common causes of sciatica.
• Obesity, or even temporary weight gain: Extra body weight can put additional stress on your spine, contributing to the spinal changes that trigger sciatica.
• Repeated motion: Having an occupation or hobby that requires you to repeatedly twist your back, carry heavy loads, or sit for prolonged periods may increase the risk of sciatica.
• Inactivity: Those who sit or are inactive for prolonged periods are more likely to develop sciatica than people who remain active.
• Diabetes: Diabetes affects the way your body uses blood sugar and increases your risk of nerve damage.
In order to understand dry needling, it’s important to first understand myofascial trigger points. Myofascial trigger points are sore and sensitive knots in muscles. These knots are made up of muscle fibers that contracted or tightened during use, but that never lengthened back to a relaxed state afterwards. As a result, painful, sensitive nodules in the muscle form, and muscle fibers become tight enough to compress the surrounding capillaries and nerves. This constriction makes it less able for these muscles to obtain a fresh blood supply, making it harder for them to receive oxygen and nutrients and flush out toxins. As a result, patients suffering from these myofascial trigger points experience pain and discomfort, muscles that are sore to the touch, and even an impediment of their normal range of motion.
Dry needling for sciatica works to address these myofascial trigger points in the muscle. When a fine filament needle is inserted into the center of a myofascial trigger point, blood flow to the area increases. This increased circulation provides these muscle fibers with the fresh oxygen and nutrients they need, and as the toxins are flushed away, the muscles relax. The muscle fibers' relaxed state relieves the pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing the pain to subside.
For those suffering from sciatica, dry needling is a viable solution. Dr. Chanatry provides dry needling services to patients in need of pain relief. He specializes in helping those suffering from long-lasting pain or even recent injuries. If you are suffering from sciatica and are interested in dry needling, contact our office today for an appointment!