We applied electroacupuncture to the spinal nerve root by inserting needles under x ray imaging in three cases with radicular sciatica, as a non-pharmacological substitute for lumbar spinal nerve block. In all three cases, symptoms were markedly reduced immediately after electroacupuncture to the spinal nerve root. The sustained effect was noticeably longer than that of spinal nerve blocks previously performed, in two out of the three cases. We suggest that descending inhibitory control, inhibitory control at the spinal level, inhibition of potential activity by hyperpolarisation of nerve endings, or changes in nerve blood flow may be involved in the mechanism of the effect of electroacupuncture to the spinal nerve root. These results suggest that electroacupuncture to the spinal nerve root may be superior to lumbar spinal nerve block when it is applied appropriately in certain cases of radicular sciatica, taking into consideration patient age, severity of symptoms and duration of the disorder.
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