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  • Writer's pictureMarieke Pieterman, L.Ac.

Chronic sciatica pain: How acupuncture can help

By Marieke A. Pieterman

Are you currently experiencing pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness that begins in your lower back and then runs down the side of your leg? Does it occur particularly after long car rides or sitting for long periods of time? Chances are -- you are experiencing sciatica pain. But there is hope – acupuncture.

I know most people seek acupuncture to relieve pain, but this study actually reveals how acupuncture affects the brain. Slowly but surely, we are beginning to understand more and more about how acupuncture works – and it’s fascinating, believe me.

In a clinical trial, researchers at Huashan Hospital of Fudan University found acupuncture to be an effective treatment for chronic sciatica pain, producing significant reductions in intensity levels and frequency of pain.

In this study, 20 participants were divided into two groups; 10 healthy individuals were placed in the control group and 10 individuals suffering from chronic sciatica, for more than three months, were placed in the treatment group who would receive electroacupuncture (acupuncture plus electrical stimulation).

The electroacupuncture group could not take any sedatives or analgesics 24 hours prior to and during the acupuncture treatment and could not have received acupuncture within the last six months. Electroacupuncture was administered for 30-minute treatment sessions, twice a day, three times a week, for a total of 10 treatments.

Both before and after the treatment, various pain scale data was collected, measuring both the pain intensity levels as well as the frequency of pain. In addition, both the control group and the electroacupuncture group were scanned with an fMRI before the electroacupuncture treatment and again after the 10 sessions of electroacupuncture treatment.

Check out these results:


The electroacupuncture group had significant results and reported a decrease in the frequency and intensity levels of pain; 5.6 +/- 1.3 prior to and 1.2 +/- 0.8 after the 10 electroacupuncture treatments, compared to the control group.


In addition, fMRI data revealed that acupuncture provided patients with greater resting states -- by changing the functional state of the brain -- in the default mode network.

In neuroscience, the default mode network (DMN) or the default network, is the network of interconnected regions of the brain that become more active when an individual is at rest, not focused on the outside world. Using the fMRI technology, this DMN activity is actually measurable. In this study, the fMRI revealed that sciatica-related pain actually disrupts this normal DMN pattern. Furthermore, it determined that acupuncture actually restores this normal DMN pattern by regulating it and is therefore correlated with the significant pain reductions experienced by these sciatica patients.


Here at Holistic Heart Acupuncture, we are treating sciatica on a weekly basis with our clients. Read our testimonies below from our clients at Holistic Heart Acupuncture and how we were able to help them with their sciatica pain:

  • “Marieke was able to help me get back to walking my dog again without limping! I was also able to sleep again without the pain running down my leg waking me up!”

  • My hip hurt most of the time for months. I did not want to go to the doctor for shots or one more pill. I am really afraid of needles so deciding on acupuncture was a major decision for me. I can say it did not hurt, and my hip pain is gone. Marieke is a thorough and caring professional.”

Are you ready to book your appointment for your sciatica pain? Don’t delay – give us a call today!

Acupuncture MRI Discovery For Sciatica Relief



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