San Francisco Acupuncture for Sciatica: Kristen Sparrow, MD; San Francisco Acupuncturist

San Francisco Acupuncture for Back Pain“I can’t see a better solution to long-term chronic pain. There is no question in my mind that acupuncture is safer than surgery or drugs. “Dr. Bruce Pomeranz, Neurosurgeon, University of Toronto
Do you have Sciatica?  You are not alone…
This from the U.S. National Institutes of Health:

“Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low back pain, the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work. Back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States — only headache is more common.”

Back pain is one of the most common ailments I see in my clinic, I know how frustrating back pain can be. And you think, “wouldn’t it be great if I could get rid of these pills, sleep great again, or be able to walk as far as I want?”  I’ve helped many, many patients get rid of their pills and finally get their old life back. One of my patients says,

“I work as a “stager” in home sales, and my back went out after a difficult day of  moving furniture.  A friend told me about Dr. Sparrow and so I had some acupuncture treatments, and in my case I felt better even after the first session! I was so relieved.  It really can work!” 

But did you know that…

  • The National Health Service in Great Britain has stopped paying for MRI’s, back Xrays, and epidural steroid injections for back pain and go directly to acupuncture because they want to save money and “only fund those therapies that work.”  They go on to say   ”Tens of millions of pounds are being wasted by the NHS (National Health Service) on useless treatments for back pain, money that should be diverted to alternative therapies such as acupuncture…”  In Canada they have also shown how acupuncture decreases costs and increases results.
  • Acupuncture for chronic low back pain in Germany showed “Acupuncture plus routine care was associated with marked clinical improvements in these patients and was relatively cost-effective.”  The next year  In October of 2007 a large study was published
    [1]  showing that Acupuncture helped low back pain more than conventional therapy for at least a 6 month period.   Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Sep 1;164(5):487-96.
  • Xrays  and MRI’s do NOT correlate with pain necessarily. Often people with back pain have normal  xrays, and people with abnormal xrays have no pain at all.
  • Stress, worry, and poor sleep all can make back pain worse.  Acupuncture helps with these problems too and so leads to better healing. Dr. Sparrow in an expert in acupuncture for stress. Read more here.  Her research is here.
  • Though you should plan on at least 4 visits, patients often feel better after even the first session.
  • You can do acupuncture along with physical therapy and chiropractic.
  • Acupuncture is very safe. In contrast, recent medical treatments for back pain have been recalled due to safety issues. For example bone cement was found to be no better that placebo and lots more expensive. Also bone growth products used in spinal fusions have been decried as dangerous and useless.
  • Heat, not ice, in conjunction with acupuncture is recommended to help reinforce the treatment and encourage blood flow and healing
  • Some patients end up coming monthly even after their back feels better, since it keeps the pain at bay, and they get “addicted” to all the other benefits.

What you should know about Dr. Sparrow and her safe and innovative acupuncture techniques before you become hopeless about your pain…

  • Dr. Sparrow has been practicing acupuncture for 16 years and is Board Certified in Anesthesiology and Pediatrics.
  • She has a keen interest in her patients, prevention, health matters and the research behind acupuncture’s effectiveness.
  • You can follow her blog here.
  • Please call (415) 775-0117 to set an appointment.


Specifically for back pain there is recent study out of China that suggests along with more general effects for acupuncture pain relief mentioned below, there are specific effects of lumbar stimulation with acupuncture.

There was a recent study that explored electroacupuncture for back pain and it showed not only that patients responded better to acupuncture than medications, but that their stress response decreased also.  You can read more here.

There is evidence for needling causing active cytoskeletal remodeling in connective tissue fibroblasts⁴, so the results from these studies can be understood from a physiological point of view as actually improving the intrinsic tissue architecture of the knee and hip. Sham acupuncture also improved the pain, function and quality of life scores of the patients in the first study cited, but those results were not sustained for as long as the real acupuncture. This can be explained by the understood global mechanisms acupuncture, including endomorphin-1, beta endorphin, encephalin, and serotonin levels increase in plasma and brain tissue through acupuncture application. It has been observed that the increases of endomorphin-1, beta endorphin, encephalin, serotonin, and dopamine cause analgesia, sedation, and recovery in motor functions. They also have immunomodulator effects on the immune system and lipolithic effects on metabolism⁵.