Acupuncture and Stretching Helped My Sciatica: An Open Letter from a Spine-health Reader

Note from the writer: This is a story submitted by a member of our on-line community. We thought it might offer hope and treatment ideas to some of you who are suffering with low back pain and sciatica.

    In his own words

    I remember the moment I first injured my back very clearly, even though it was 7 years ago. Though I was an active, healthy, 46-year-old man with no previous spine issues, I felt a sharp twinge of pain in my lower back as I lifted groceries out of the trunk of my car.

    The pain was noticeable, but bearable, so I just took some over-the-counter pain medicine and ignored it.

One of our readers shares his story about finding pain relief after suffering a herniated disc. Read more about this condition: What's a Herniated Disc, Pinched Nerve, Bulging Disc...?

    A few days later, I started to notice a mild tingling sensation in my right leg. I mentioned this to my friend, who is a physiotherapist, and she recommended I call my doctor right away.

    See Should I See a Doctor for Back Pain?

    I didn’t take her advice to call the doctor right away, and as I hit the 3-week mark after my original incident, the pain in my back grew worse, and the tingling in my leg was getting progressively more bothersome. Looking back, I wish I had gone to see my doctor sooner. Finally, I made an appointment with my doctor.

    My doctor referred me to get an MRI, and I was consequently diagnosed with a herniated disc at the L4-L5 segment.

    See All about the L4-L5 Spinal Segment

    I was happy to hear my doctor did not recommend surgery. He prescribed a course of NSAIDs and instructed me to start some gentle exercises.

    See Exercise for Sciatica from a Herniated Disc

    Healing through physical therapy

    After 6 weeks of taking my pain medication I was still in quite a bit of pain, so my doctor recommended I see a physiotherapist (similar to a physical therapist in the United States).

    See Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain Relief

    My physiotherapist provided hands-on treatment and recommended stretches to do at home. The stretches I found particularly useful were the back extensions like these:

The "cat stretch," shown here, helped this reader with his sciatic pain. Read for more exercise ideas: Stretches and Exercise for Sciatic Pain from Piriformis Syndrome

The "cow stretch," shown here, helped this reader with his sciatic pain. Read for more exercise ideas: Stretches and Exercise for Sciatic Pain from Piriformis Syndrome

    The goal of these stretches is to increase the size of the nerve canal, which has been compressed as a result of the herniation.

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    Pain relief from acupuncture

    I spent a lot of time extensively researching my condition. As a result of all this research I was convinced I needed to try acupuncture. I figured that I may as well give as many potential therapies a try.

    See Acupuncture: An Ancient Treatment for a Current Problem

    I booked an appointment at a local acupuncture clinic. The exercises were helping, but I was still in pain. It was rather daunting at first to enter a darkened room and allow a stranger to stick needles into me. But, my experience with acupuncture was very positive, and it provided almost instant relief. After 10 sessions, I was pain free, and I credit a big part of my healing to it.

    I continue to work on staying pain free by doing my stretches and getting acupuncture as needed. I hope my story can give anyone searching for natural pain remedies hope.

We thank our reader, Dan, from BackSpasmAdvice for sharing his story with us, and we hope it gave some of you inspiration to keep looking for a treatment that works for you. If you have your own success story to tell, the Good News section of the Spine-health Forum is a great place to share that story with people who might need an extra bit of hope with their own recovery from back or neck pain.

Learn more:

Acupuncture Considerations

Physical Therapy Benefits For Back Pain

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