Sciatic pain may be constant or it may be felt as a sudden pinching sensation. Oftentimes sciatica cannot be blamed on a specific trauma - sometimes simply bending, lifting, or straining may aggravate it. Pain is triggered when pressure is put on the sciatic nerve such as the spinal discs or tight muscles, or more seriously spinal disc herniation, when a portion of the spinal disc bulges out of the spinal column and pushes on the sciatic nerve, or spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal.
Fortunately tight muscles or spasms are the most common cause of sciatica, which can be treated more easily. Most often the culprit is a tight piriformis muscle in the buttocks, but other muscles in the lower back and pelvic region often contribute to sciatic pain.
Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for sciatica, eliminating or significantly decreasing pain and increasing quality of life. Research has shown acupuncture to be successful in treating back pain and sciatica through the following mechanisms: