Sciatica is a medical condition characterized by sharp pain and numbness radiating down the sciatic nerve, from the lower back to the buttocks and down the leg. It’s most commonly found in people aged between 25 and 45, and it’s typically only on one side of the body.
There are multiple potential causes for sciatica; the majority of symptoms result from lower back disorders that put pressure on or cause irritation to a lumbar nerve root. The pain may follow spinal cord compression, piriformis syndrome, stressed fascia of the gluteal muscles, or a herniated disc.
There are three acupuncture points in traditional Chinese medicine that you can stimulate to help relieve the symptoms of sciatica.
1. Tianzong point
Location: In the center of the shoulder blade. More specifically, in the region of the scapula, in the depression of the center of the subscapular fossa, level with the 4th thoracic vertebra.
Directions: Place a tennis ball or similar object around the Tianzong and hold it there with your back pressing against a wall. Wobble the ball around the center of the shoulder blade for around 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. For best results, do this 5-10 times a day.
Results: Pressing the Tianzong point helps to relieve tension in the back, waist, and buttocks.
2. Huantiao point
Location: In your buttocks. Lie on your side with your knees bent. It is in the depression one-third the distance between the most prominent aspect of the greater trochanter to the sacrococcygeal ligament.
Directions: If you spend a lot of time sitting, this will be beneficial for you. Correct your posture and place a tennis ball around the Huantiao point and wobble on it slightly. Do this with caution; the massaging should be done for no more than 20 seconds on each side, as over-stimulation of the Huantiao point can deepen any pain in the area.
Results: Pressing the Huantiao point can strengthen the lower back and legs, and is the main point for sciatica. Try massaging the Huantiao point every 50 minutes when sitting for long periods of time.
3. Fengshi point
Location: The point your middle finger touches, in the center of the thigh, when you stand up straight with your hands to your sides.
Direction: Use the ball or your hand to massage the Fengshi point or pound it 15-30 times.
Results: This point helps to alleviate leg problems.
According to traditional Chinese medicine theories, sciatica is due to disharmony in the energetic pathways that circulate throughout the body. Stimulating these acupuncture points may help to bring them closer to a harmonious state.
Translated by Cecilia and edited by Emiko Kingswell