Sciatica is painful inflammation of the sciatic nerve. This nerve comes from the fourth and fifth lumbar, and first and second sacral spinal roots. It provides the motor innervation of the long muscles of the posterior thigh and all the leg muscles below the knee. It transmits sensations from the posterior thigh and side of the leg down to and including the sole of the foot.
Lumbar disc damage and arthritis are the most common causes of sciatica. Other causes include nerve damage from buttocks injections, neurotoxic drugs, metastatic lesions and injuries from trauma.
Drugs with dangerous side effects may relieve the pain temporarily but have no therapeutic effect. Traction with bed rest may relieve the pain by taking pressure off the nerve, but such inactivity encourages the development of thrombosis which may lead to strokes and heart attacks. Spinal surgery may relieve or aggravate the symptoms but is hazardous and usually unnecessary unless a tumor is present.
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for sciatica. The pain is usually relieved after the first few treatments. Six to ten treatments are enough for relief in most cases.
Large doses of Vitamin C, Pantothenate, Calcium, Vitamins B1, B6 and B12 can potentiate the effectiveness of acupuncture.