Q: My wife suffers constant pain in her leg, diagnosed as L4 nerve trapped in pelvic area. Would acupuncture help her condition?
A: This is rather difficult to answer. There is no doubt that acupuncture treatment can be used to reduce chronic pain, and this has indeed been one of the most researched areas over the last thirty years, mainly because the neurotransmitter chemicals associated with pain responses are a good and easily taken measure. Scientists love the measurable!
However, in this case a huge amount depends on the way that the nerve has been trapped and on the certainty of the diagnosis. In some cases the diagnosis is done backwards, i.e. the manifestation of the pain is taken to be evidence of what is causing it. We find often that low back pains are said to be caused by arthritic deterioration of the lower spine, but most people over 50 have some deterioration so it may not always be the case that this together with the pain is a solid chain of causation. We are often able to treat low back pain successfully when the initial indications are that it is said to be caused by a mechanical problem and should not be amenable to treatment.
If, however, your wife has had scans or neurological examinations which show conclusively that impingement is what is causing the pain, then acupuncture treatment may be benefical if there are spasms of the muscles in the area which treatment might release or inflammation which might be reduced by treatment. The system of Chinese medicine has existed for over two thousand years and has addressed problems like this in its own terms, describing inflammation in terms of heat and stagnation, and developing treatment protocols aimed at reducing the former and moving the latter.
Behind this, however, is the question of the structural soundness of your wife's lower back. If there are postural weaknesses or abnormalities which are causing pressure to be applied to the nerve by surrounding tissues, then although acupuncture might over a period of time help to resolve the problem, it may be more efficient to visit an osteopath or chiropractor who can try to restore natural structure in the first instance.
It is always worthwhile visiting a BAcC member local to you for advice. Most are more than happy to spend a little time without charge determining what options may be best for a prospective patient.