How Long Does It Take for Acupuncture to Relieve Sciatica?

Are you struggling with sciatica pain and wondering how long it might take for acupuncture to provide relief? At Orthopedic & Sports Acupuncture in Syracuse, we understand that each individual’s experience with sciatica and acupuncture is unique. Here’s what you can generally expect:

When Will You Start Feeling Better?

The short answer is, “It depends.”  There are many factors that contribute to your recovery time.  One of the most obvious is what is causing your pain.  For instance, referred pain from a strained muscle usually clears up within 2-4 visits.  Referred pain from an overloaded ligament due to muscle imbalances in the core takes a little longer, usually 3-6.  Pain due to severe arthritic changes may take longer still – perhaps 5-8 visits to notice significant relief.

For Those in Good Health

Your overall physical, nutritional and emotional health play a major roll in your trajectory.  It may come as no surprise that, all else being equal, healthier people heal faster than less healthy ones.

For Those with Underlying Health Issues

If your pain is chronic or you have an underlying health condition, your recovery process will likely be slower.  For instance, the longer your condition has been going on, the more wear and tear your body has likely accumulated – arthritic changes, scar tissue, muscle imbalances and atrophy to name a few.   Chronic health conditions like diabetes can both sensitize nerves to compression and slow tissue healing times more generally.  Lifestyle factors play a role as well.  For instance, excessive alcohol consumption can increase inflammation levels.

While it may not be obvious,  emotional health also plays a role in how you experience pain and how quickly you recover.  For instance, anxiety and stress can cause your muscles to tighten up and perpetuate myofascial pain.  There is also evidence that chronic stress can contribute to hormonal changes that contribute to increased levels of inflammation and oxidative stress.

A qualified acupuncturist at our Syracuse clinic can assess your individual situation and provide a personalized treatment plan.

Early Signs of Improvement After Acupuncture Treatment

While everyone’s trajectory is different, there are some general trends.  The first thing that almost all patients notice is an improvement in stability and muscular activation.  Depending on chronicity and other health factors, pain relief may occur simultaneously or it may lag behind a bit.  You may also notice progressive increases in your ability to perform activities of daily living.  For instance, if walking is painful, you may start to notice that you are able to walk farther before your sciatic pain starts to kick in.  These small early improvements offer an encouraging glimpse of what’s to come.