Lower back pain and sciatica

What is back pain and who gets it?

Back pain, including lower back pain and sciatica, is a very common condition with more than 80% of people reporting it during their lifetime. However, it’s cause may not always be obvious.

Pain focused in the lower back region is often referred to as lumbago. Symptoms include lower back stiffness, muscle tension and achiness. The main cause of lumbago can be overuse of the lower back and the sudden lifting of a heavy load.

Pain felt along the path of the sciatic nerve is referred to as sciatica. This may be felt as an ache or sharp pain in the lower back, hip, buttocks or down the leg. Some people experience tingling or numbness, and others a shooting jolt along the leg. Although sciatica may go away over time, often within 4 to 6 weeks, it can last longer and be very painful.

How acupuncture can help

Pain can be seen as a blockage in the flow of the normal working of the body. Acupuncture encourages this flow, restoring normal function and helping to resolve the pain.

Treatment starts with an initial assessment to explore your symptoms including the nature, location, and duration of the pain. We discuss your wider health history to understand the background for any underlying issues. Then a tailored plan is made to help you achieve your health goals.

In each follow-up treatment we’ll talk about the improvements and changes you’ve noticed, followed by your acupuncture treatment. At the end of your course of treatments we’ll review progress together and talk over the options for any appropriate next steps.

Back pain can resolve itself of its own accord. However, if it’s particularly painful or has continued for some time (and you’ve already seen your GP) then acupuncture treatment may be able to help.

Treatment for back pain and sciatica

Treatment for back pain will usually include a mixture of the following:

  • Acupuncture – with needles placed in the area of pain and also on the legs or arms
  • Heat – applied to the painful area using a heat lamp or moxibustion
  • Massage, cupping, or gua sha – to encourage circulation in the painful area
  • Electronic Acupuncture – using a very small electric current

How many acupuncture treatments will you need for lower back pain and sciatica

Everyone is different, with the cause of the issue being unique to each person. The rule of thumb is the longer you’ve had the pain and the more intense it is, the longer it’s likely to take to resolve.

Acupuncture works best when you a course of treatments, so that each treatment builds on the improvements of the previous one. Many people find they get relief starting from the first treatment. With others it may take a few treatments before improvements are seen.

In clinic, we have also seen some incredibly rapid improvements – however, it is not always the case for everyone. That said, with these type of conditions you should have in mind starting with a course of 6 treatments. So you may need more if the pain is very intense or if you’ve had it for a long time.

Case study: Sciatic back pain


An active lady in her late 70’s who enjoys gardening came wanting help with reducing the pain she was feeling in her lower back and right buttock. Her pain was sharp and stabbing, which could appear at any time. It was particularly noticeable when standing up from a sitting position.

Her consultant had previously diagnosed spinal stenosis of the L4 / L5 vertebra which was impinging the sciatic nerve. She had been offered steroid injections and surgery, which she wasn’t keen to have due to their potential side effects.


After taking a full medical history it was clear there was stagnation in the body causing the intense pain. There was also an underlying deficiency, or weakness, allowing the symptoms to gain a hold.

Her treatment aim had two goals. Firstly, to clear the stagnation and resolve the pain. Secondly, to nourish the underlying deficiency and therefore reduce the likelihood of the condition reoccurring.

Treatment and outcome

A combination of acupuncture and applying heat via moxibustion and a heat lamp was used. Over the course of 5 weekly treatments the pain was reduced until it had completely gone.

We really appreciate what you have done for us in providing us with this wonderful acupuncture and relief from excruciating pain. I am so glad we found you after much research . We are so terribly lucky !! Our heartfelt thanks to you.

Don’t ignore back pain or sciatica

The sooner you start treating a problem, the quicker you’re likely to recover and the less likely it will turn into a long term issue. Acupuncture may help, and there are also things you can do yourself to help – see the following ‘Tips’.

The NHS currently recommends you see a GP if the pain:

  • Has not improved after trying home treatments for a few weeks
  • Is getting worse
  • Is stopping you doing your normal activities

Free consultation

Get your free 20 minute telephone consultation now and find out how acupuncture could help you.

Book quickly and easily online, or give us a call on 01737 420221

Tips to aid recovery

  • Keep moving

  • Exercise regularly (if possible)

  • Don’t sit for too long

  • Keep good posture when sitting

  • Apply a heat pack (or hot water bottle) wrapped in a tea towel to relieve joint stiffness or muscle spasms

Free consultation

Find out how acupuncture could help you now. Book a free 20 minute telephone consultation quickly and easily online, or call 01737 420221

Book a treatment

You can book a treatment quickly and easily online, or call 01737 420221.

Further resources


Exercises for back pain and sciatica*

NHS Inform Scotland

Mayo Clinic

NHS – pilates and yoga exercise video for chronic back pain

Information on back pain and sciatica

Sciatica information

Back pain information


Back pain support organisations




* Please use under the guidance of a qualified practitioner.