If you’ve ever experienced it yourself, you know that sciatica pain can be debilitating. The sciatic nerve, after all, is the largest in the body. Acupressure points for sciatica provide a safe and accessible treatment for this very common pain. This list includes a list of five sciatica pressure points for relief.
Affecting more than 3 million people per year, sciatica pain points originate in the lower back and radiate down the back of the thigh, down the leg, and beyond the knee. It is usually generalized to one side of the body.
Is Acupuncture Good For Sciatica?
Yes. Depending on the severity, conventional treatments range from over-the-counter or prescription medications aimed at reducing pain and inflammation to physical therapy, steroid injections, or surgery. Of course, each of these is not without its risks and side effects.
Studies have shown that the use of acupuncture points for sciatica treatment may be more effective than drugs and may enhance the effect of medications for patients with sciatica. This makes acupuncture a safe and effective treatment alternative or supplement for sciatica, considering the harmful side effects of many drugs and the risks associated with surgery.
According to a 2017 review article in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry, there have been many observational studies showing the therapeutic benefits of using acupuncture points for sciatica.
Does acupressure really work?
Yes. Acupressure is based on the concept of life energy flowing throughout the body in meridians. Acupressure clears blockages of that energy by applying pressure to points such as those sciatica pressure points.
A 2015 study in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that acupressure points for sciatica treatment were more effective than conventional Western medicine in effectiveness, pain intensity, and pain threshold. The study concluded that acupuncture might be effective in treating sciatica pain.
How Do I Find An Acupressure Point? What Do They Feel Like?
Acupressure points exist along meridians, mirroring the pain points related to sciatica. Meridians are channels or pathways throughout the body through which energy flows. The main acupressure points for sciatica are located along the bladder and gallbladder meridians.
The gallbladder meridian runs from your fourth toe up through your foot, leg, trunk and terminating at the top of your shoulder. There is one meridian on each side of your body, with 44 acupuncture points along each.
Similarly, there is a bladder meridian on each side of the body as well. They go down parallel to the spine on the back, through the center of the buttocks and back of the thigh and lower leg, to the ankle’s lateral side, and terminating in the fifth toe.
You can see why these meridians would be necessary for treating sciatica. They include many of the pressure points to relieve sciatica.
Different acupressure points feel different when activated. For example, when applying pressure, some might feel tense, while others are sore or ache. With some of the acupressure points for sciatica treatment, you will know once you’ve found it. You’ll feel pain but in a good way.
When holding an acupressure point, you’ll sometimes feel pain in another part of the body. This is called referred pain and occurs with related areas.
5 Acupressure Points For Sciatica Relief
1. Acupoint: GB-30 (Other Names: Gallbladder-30/Huan Tiao/Jumping Circle)
- Acupuncture Point: Gallbladder 30 (GB 30, GB30)
- Chinese Name: huán tiào
- English Name: Jumping Circle
This is, by far, the best sciatica pressure point because the sciatic nerve is located under the piriformis muscle. When you properly place pressure on this sciatic nerve pressure point, the piriformis relaxes. This, in turn, reduces the strain on the sciatic nerve and provides relief.
It is located one-third between the sacrum and hip on the outside of the buttock, deep under the glute muscles. More simply, the outer hip buttock region. You can also find the acupoint by bending your leg as shown in the diagram above. Your sole will be pointing at GB-30 naturally. Then, you can use a tennis ball or spiky ball to reach this sciatica pressure point. You can also apply firm pressure with your fingers on this acupoint for 1 – 2 minutes.
The Chinese name is translated to “Jumping Circle” because it can be found at the pivotal hip region of the lower limb. It is also helpful in treating other issues, including skin conditions such as urticaria and eczema. It tonifies Qi and the blood, as well as resolves damp-heat.
GB-30 is also one of the great acupuncture points for hip pain.
2. Acupoint: GB-29 (Other Names: Gallbladder-29/Ju Liao/Stationary Crevice)
- Acupuncture Point: Gallbladder 29 (GB 29, GB29)
- Chinese Name: jū liáo
- English Name: Stationary Crevice
GB29 is a practical pressure point for sciatica and pain radiating from the hips. It can be used for lumbar pain, difficulty rotating the body, as well as pain and weakness or numbness in the lower extremities, paralysis, and muscular atrophy. It is also indicated for arthritis of the thigh bone and pain in local soft tissues.
Pressure on GB29 activates the meridian, removing obstructions from the channel, which then relieves pain, including sciatic pain, in the hips and lower extremities.
It is located at the midpoint of the line, which connects the anterior iliac spine and the femur’s great trochanter on the hip. More simply, it is located in the depression on the hipbone.
3. Acupoint: GB-40 (Other Names: Gallbladder-40/Qiu Xu/Mound of Ruins)
- Acupuncture Point: Gallbladder 40 (GB 40, GB40)
- Chinese Name: qiū xū
- English Name: Mound of Ruins
GB40 functions by spreading liver qi while also benefitting the gallbladder by clearing gallbladder heat and damp-heat. Clearing this channel provides relief by opening the hip and leg from cramping, as well as relieving tension in the foot. It activates the meridian, relieves pain, and also benefits the joints.
In addition to relieving weakness, numbness, atrophy, and pain in the lower extremities, such as that associated with sciatica, it is also indicated for distention and pain in the chest and hypochondrium, as well as swelling and pain of the malleolus and chronic malaria with predominant chills. Interestingly, it can also help with vomiting and acid regurgitation.
GB40 is a source point, meaning that it is one of the safest points within the body. This is because source points cannot be overstimulated. Instead, they automatically “turn off” once the appropriate level of pressure has been attained. Source points bring just the right amount of energy to balance, strengthen, and harmonize.
The GB40 pressure point for sciatic pain is located at an angle below the external malleolus in the depression on the lateral side of the tendon of the muscle extensor digitorum longus.
GB-40 acupoint is also typically used in acupuncture for a sprained ankle.
4. Acupoint: Bl-40 (Other Names: Urinary Bladder-40/Wei Zhong/Middle of the Crook)
- Acupuncture Point: Bladder 40 (BL 40, BL40)
- Chinese Name: Wei Zhong
- English Name: Middle of the Crook
Located on the back of the knee, Bl-40 is an unsuspecting sciatica pressure point. It is located on the bladder channel, which is the longest acupuncture pathway on the body. It functions by clearing the blood and acting as a heat-clearing channel, making it especially good for alleviating pain.
In addition to knee pain and being an excellent acupressure point for sciatica, it also provides relief to headaches, toothaches, sore throats, and even bladder infections. It can also be used to treat hemiplegia, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Additional indications include persistent nosebleeds, night sweats, and cholera.
It can be found at the middle point behind the knee cap on the back of the leg, on the midpoint of the transverse crease of the popliteal fossa, between the bicep femoris tendons and semitendinosus.
It functions by clearing the blood and discharging heat, as well as soothing the sinews and freeing the connecting vessels. It dispels wind-damp and disinhibits the knees and lumbus.
Bl40 acupuncture point is commonly used to maintain good health according to TCM principle.
5. Acupoint: Bl-62 (Other Names: Urinary Bladder-62/Shen Mai/Extending Vessel)
- Acupuncture Point: Bladder 62 (BL 62, BL62)
- Chinese Name: shēn mài
- English Name: Extending Vessel
Not only is BL62 one of the best acupressure points for sciatica, but it is also valuable for clearing the mind. It clears obstructions of the urinary bladder channel, which can cause pain. It functions by dispelling interior wind, benefiting the eyes and head, relaxing sinews, and treating epilepsy.
In addition to being effective in treating back and leg pain, it is a ghost point, which is used in the treatment of mental and neurological disorders. Its indications include headache and dizziness, epilepsy, mania, and insomnia.
Additionally, when paired with acupressure point SI3 (small intestine 3), it activates the Wei Mai, Yang Heel and Governing (Du Mai) vessels for use in the treatment of upper back, spine, neck, and lower back pain such as sciatica.
The BL62 pressure point for sciatica is near the base of your outer ankle bone, in a slight depression below the base of the external malleolus bone. You can apply firm pressure on this acupoint for 1 – 2 minutes.