Sciatica pain can be caused by irritation, inflammation, pinching, or compression of the nerve in the lower back. A herniated disk or slipped disc is the most common cause of sciatica pain. Acupuncture is an effective treatment for sciatica that doesn't have the side effects of prescribed pain medications such as NSAIDs and muscle relaxers.


  • Lumbar disc problems - degeneration, herniation
  • Spinal stenosis (Spinal canal narrowing)
  • Spinal vertebrae fracture 
  • Pregnancy (due to realignment of hips)
  • Tight muscles (Piriformis Syndrome)


  • Moderate to severe pain in your lower back, buttocks and down your legs.
  • You may feel numbness or weakness in your lower back or buttock, legs, feet, or ankles.
  • Movement-related pain; movement loss.
  • Feeling "pins and needles" in your feet, legs, or toes.
  • loss of bladder and bowel control.

How effective is acupuncture for treating sciatica?

A 2015 review by Rizhao TCM Hospital and Shanghai University on the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating lower back pain and sciatica revealed that Acupuncture as a standalone remedy had an effective rate of 81.6% to relieve sciatica-related pain and restore normal function.

For more information on how acupuncture works read - The Role of Acupuncture In Pain Relief

How does acupuncture relieve sciatica?

Acupuncture works by relaxing tight muscles, improving blood circulation, regulating the nervous system, and releasing neurotransmitters to reduce pain.  

It helps back pain and sciatica by

  • The stimulation of nerves located in muscles and other tissues in the body leads to the release of endorphins and other neurohumoral substances. It can also alter the way that pain is processed by the brain and spine.
  • The increase in serotonin or noradrenaline can reduce pain and speed up nerve repair.
  • By increasing local microcirculation, you can improve muscle stiffness and joint mobility. This helps to spread or disperse any swelling.
  • Promotion of the regeneration and maintenance of the sciatic nerve.
  • accelerates the transmission of electromagnetic signals that initiate the flow of pain-killing drugs.
  • Inflammation is reduced by stimulating the release of immunomodulatory and vascular factors.
  • The release of natural opioids, which help relieve pain and promote sleep.

Also read,

  • How to Fix Your Back Pain & Muscle Pain The Acupuncture Way!

Acupuncture, when done by a skilled acupuncturist, can have little or no side effects. 

Acupuncture is less likely to cause back pain than other pain-relieving drugs. However, it is as effective as any other therapy.

How much time does it take for acupuncture to work on sciatica?

A typical treatment for sciatica would include 6-12 treatments, 2-3 times per week, depending on the severity of the condition. For faster relief, it is recommended to use more frequent treatments. However, if you don't have the time or are unable to schedule frequent treatments, two treatments per week can be sufficient for steady, slower progress.

If you are experiencing difficulty with sciatica, then acupuncture is worth a try.