Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Sciatica Relief with Electroacupuncture


Electroacupuncture is effective for sciatica relief. In a recent study from Henan Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, researchers learned that applying electroacupuncture to GB30 (Huantiao) and GB34 (Yanglingquan) alleviates pain, inhibits inflammation, and improves nerve conduction velocity more effectively than a standard manual acupuncture protocol. [1]

Observational indicators used in the clinical trial include the McGill pain index for pain levels, serum IL-6, TNF-α, and MCP-1 for inflammation parameters, motor nerve conduction velocity (MCV) measurements at the tibial nerve and common fibular nerve, and sensory nerve conduction velocity (SCV) measurements at the superficial peroneal nerve and sural nerve.

Based upon the data collected prior to treatment, both groups experienced improvements above baseline; however, the electroacupuncture group demonstrated greater relief from sciatica after treatment than the manual acupuncture group. The electroacupuncture scores from the pain rating Index (PRI), visual analog scale (VAS) and present pain intensity (PPI) dropped more than the manual control acupuncture group. Figures of proinflammatory IL-6, TNF-α and MCP-1 were at 18.84 ±5.23, 32.37 ±5.37, and 83.26 ±8.36 respectively. These scores are considerably lower than those of the control group which were 27.72 ±5.52, 41.83 ±6.15, and 98.23 ±9.72. Upon completion of the treatment protocols, motor and sensory conduction was better in the electroacupuncture group.

The sample in this study consisted of 121 cases of sciatica patients admitted into the hospital. Sixty patients were randomly placed into a regular manual acupuncture control group and 61 patients were placed in the electroacupuncture group. Within the control group, there were 28 males and 32 females. The age range was 41–72 years, and the mean age was 56.75 ±7.51 years. There were 13 secondary sciatica cases and 18 primary cases. In this group, 29 cases had pain on one side of the body. Within the electroacupuncture group, there were 30 males and 31 females. Their ages ranged between 40–73 years. The mean age was 56.28 ±7.24 years. There were 14 secondary sciatica cases and 18 primary cases. In this group, 19 cases had pain on one side of the body.

Both groups received the following acupuncture protocols. Patients were in a lateral or supine position. The following acupoints were chosen for manual acupuncture:

  • BL40 (Weizhong)
  • GB31 (Fengshi)
  • BL36 (Chengfu)
  • GB41 (Zulinqi)
  • GB39 (Xuanzhong)
  • BL57(Chengshan)

For Zulinqi and Xuanzhong, needles were inserted perpendicularly up to 15 mm. For Chengshan and Chengfu, needles were perpendicularly inserted up to 40 mm. For Weizhong and Fengshi, needles were perpendicularly inserted up to 30 mm. Practitioners swiftly inserted the needles and applied a mild reinforcing-attenuating manipulation technique. Treatment lasted 30 minutes each session.

Patients in the electroacupuncture group also received the same manual procedure as in the control group above. Upon finishing the regular manual acupuncture, the electroacupuncture patients rested in a supine position for 30 minutes. Next, they received electroacupuncture at GB30 (Huantiao) and GB34 (Yanglingquan). Huantiao was connected to the positive electrode while Yanglingquan was connected to the negative electrode. The practitioners set the device to perform a disperse-dense wave with the slow frequency setting at 2 Hz. Intensity was set according to the patients’ comfort threshold. Treatment time was 30 minutes for the additional procedure.

Patients in both groups underwent four treatment courses, with six consecutive days and a one-day break completing a course. Upon completion of the full treatment course, data collected from the observational indicators demonstrated that the electroacupuncture group received greater results than did the manual acupuncture group. The data confirmes that the additional electroacupuncture treatment significantly improves patient outcomes.


[1] Xie Yuchen, Zhao Chi, Xu Hui, Ma Miao, Efficacy Analysis on Treating Sciatica Patients by Applying Electroacupuncture on Huantiao and Yanglingquan, Modern Medicine and Health Research, 2023 Vol.7 No. 4.


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