General information – Sciatica and Lower Back

(Organ names in Chinese medicine differ from Western medicine’s understanding).​

Lumbar and sciatic pain are common conditions that affect many people worldwide. The Western view of these conditions involves a detailed understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the affected areas.

The lumbar region of the spine contains five vertebrae, and the sciatic nerve runs from the lower back through the hips and buttocks down to the legs.

The Western view of lumbar and sciatic pain involves the identification of specific nerve roots that are affected and the corresponding dermatomes that cause pain in specific areas of the body.

​Dermatomes are specific regions of skin and muscle layer that are innervated by specific spinal nerve roots at different levels and spinal segments. By identifying the dermatomes that are affected, Western medicine can localize the source of pain and develop appropriate treatment plans. Western medicine also uses diagnostic tools such as MRI and X-ray to assess the extent and severity of the condition.

Complementary medicine such as acupuncture is used in combination with Western medicine to assist with management of pain for lumbar and sciatic pain. Manual therapy and Acupuncture are often used in combination to manage sciatic symptoms and stimulates the nervous system and release the bodys natural painkillers, this may assist with the reduction of local inflammation and therefor assist in managing the pain and local inflammation.

Several studies have shown the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating chronic pain, including lumbar and sciatic pain. By combining the Western and Eastern approaches, patients may benefit from a holistic treatment plan that addresses the root cause of the condition and symptom management of the condition.

Lower back pain and sciatica are conditions that can be managed through a variety of remedies that work on their own or in combination, depending on the presenting issue or the response the individual has to treatment.

According to Chinese medicine, pain results from an imbalance or blockage of the body’s vital energy, known as Qi. Various techniques are used to restore the flow of Qi and alleviate pain.

Muscle Energy Technique (MET) is a remedial massage therapy technique that involves a short physical assessment to reveal the specific type of misalignment affecting the relationship between the sacrum and the L5. This diagnosis also sheds light on the relationship between all the lumbar vertebrae and their orientation with each other. MET has protocols to deal with numerous combinations and types of misalignments.

Additionally, deep tissue techniques can be adopted, such as Japanese Shiatsu, Chinese Pressure Point Therapy (Tui Na), Western Remedial Massage, Sport Massage, and Suction Cups. Acupuncture has also been used to manage various types of lumbar pain, as it seeks to restore the flow of Qi by inserting needles into specific points on the body. Chinese herbal medicine aims to further address the deeper cause of the issue and provide a more holistic and individualized approach to treatment.

It is important to keep in mind that different people react differently to any given approach, and it is essential for individuals to seek medical support where necessary, especially when nerve conditions are involved. I personally encourage patients to have a clear understanding of the severity of their condition. CT, X-Ray and medical advise is highly recommended with some presentations. Sciatic pain may be caused by numerous factors. Both eastern and western medicines have plenty to offer in the way of relief, and a combination of approaches with the right team and proper care may help significantly in the management of lumbar pain and sciatic conditions.


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Liu, W., et al. “Acupuncture for low back pain: an overview of systematic reviews.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015 (2015).

Wong, Chun-yuen, et al. “Effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine for the management of polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review.” Journal of alternative and complementary medicine 24.4 (2018): 311-327.

Lee, Jongbae J., et al. “Evaluation of acupuncture as a treatment for retrocalcaneal bursitis: a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of alternative and complementary medicine 27.4 (2021): 294-301.