I work with many women who have suffered with sciatic pain and even numbness down their legs and into their feet. This condition can get in the way of daily life activities and typically prohibits any exercise — resulting in weight gain and sometimes depression. Several modalities can be really helpful for this! Here I’ll discuss how acupuncture and moxibustion helped Ramona to heal from long-term sciatic pain and numbness.
Ramona came to see me last winter. At age 63, she was trying to maintain her health — exercising five days a week, eating well, and keeping up with her friends and her work. However the sciatic pain and numbness had recently gotten so bad that standing up was difficult, taking walks was difficult, and her overall quality of life had gone significantly downhill.
We started Ramona’s treatment with acupuncture. Acupuncture is a technique that has been used for thousands of years for pain relief. The acupuncture needles can be placed directly into the tightened or strained muscles, allowing them to release gently. Often sciatic pain comes from a nerve impingement in the lower back so we typically place needles there as well as in the hips, buttocks, legs, and feet.
In Ramona’s case we focused on her affected leg which was the left leg. She had exceedingly tight muscles in her buttocks and hips and down her left leg towards the ankle. Her left ankle was slightly swollen and she also had several patches of cold skin along that leg, indicating suboptimal circulation.
After releasing the tight muscles using acupuncture I also added moxibustion. Moxibustion is the use of a Chinese herb that is rolled into a cigar shape and similarly lit at the end. The warm stick of herbs is placed near the skin to help with circulation. In Ramona’s case I needed to warm substantial areas of her calf and thigh to improve circulation and decrease pain. For many women the smoke released by the moxibustion creates a calming effect, and that was true for Ramona. At the end of her treatment she felt substantially relaxed.
The next time I saw her she noted significant improvements in the numbness in her toes, her overall mobility, and her pain. After a handful of acupuncture and moxibustion sessions she continued to feel a significant benefit from the treatment. She continues periodic tune-up treatments to ensure that her circulation stays strong and her legs stay in shape for regular exercise.