Monday, June 20, 2011

The Treatment of Sciatica Pain with Acupuncture

Chief Complaint: sciatica
Medical History: The patient’s history included having his right femur crushed in a car accident 50 years before, and right knee replaced 3 1/2 years before.
Questioning exam: A seventy-nine year old man presented with sciatic pain which had begun 6 weeks before, in the early winter. The pain began in the lumbar area and traversed down the posterior aspect of the right thigh, calf, and into the 4th and 5th toes, following the Urinary Bladder channel. In addition, pain also went into the right inguinal area and down the medial aspect of the right thing, following the Liver and Kidney meridians.
OM Diagnosis: Wind cold and damp in the channels
Treatment Principle: Eliminate wind, warm the channels, dry damp
Point Prescription: Using Dr. Richard Tan’s Balance Method of mirroring, points on the left and right shoulder were unsuccessful in alleviating pain rapidly. So, per Tan protocol, other locations were tried, until success was found by treating the left wrist. In this mirror image, the leg was mirrored onto the arm in an inverted fashion. Therefore, the hip was at the wrist, and the toes at the shoulder. Following Balance Method protocol, ashi points were located on the meridians related to the areas of pain previously mentioned. Since the UB, K, and Lv meridians exhibited pain, SI, H, and P meridians were needled, and the area was warmed with a TDP lamp.
Results: The patient was treated three times per week for a total of 10 treatments The patient got significant relief from his pain. There was some residual lumbar pain, but all pain down the leg, both medial and posterior was gone.
Synopsis: The most interesting aspect of this case was an unexpected benefit. The patient reported before the 8th treatment that he had been a soldier in the War in the Pacific, and had had malaria 60 years prior. The illness had left a rash on his posterior right shoulder which had been continuous ever since. It was now completely gone. The practitioner had been unaware of the condition and had made no attempt to address the problem. Possible reasons the condition cleared up are pure conjecture, but could be the PC and SI points used to address the sciatica did double duty on the shoulder. However, upon close inspection, it was discovered that one of the SI channel ashi points used to treat the patient’s pain radiating down the leg, was in fact Gan Men, one of the points described in Dr. Tan’s Twelve and Twelve in Acupuncture (copyright 1991). Gan Men is used to treat disease and dysfunction of the liver, which of course is exactly what malaria is.


  1. I have sciatica pain. I heard stretching helps relieve the pain. I would try acupuncture if my pain was really bad.

  2. Great post! I had been having a lot of Lumbar Pain and after doing some research and seeing some doctors, I was found to have Sciatica. Most of those at home remedies (stretching, ice packs, etc.) are very effective but if they only work temporarily, you should definitely see a doctor ASAP! Thanks for the great blog!

  3. Did you try or consider using MCT (Muscle Channel Technique)?