Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not acupuncture is effective for treating sciatica pain in adults.

STUDY DESIGN: A systematic review of one randomized controlled trial, randomized single-blinded controlled trial and one nonrandomized controlled trial.

DATA SOURCES: All articles were published in English between 2017 and 2019 and obtained from peer-reviewed journals using PubMed.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: Change from baseline in average leg pain at week 4 measured using the visual analog scale (VAS) in Huang et al. and the NRS score Zhang et al. Postpartum sciatica pain measured by patient reported recovery in He et al.

RESULTS: In the single-blind RCT conducted by Huang et al. there was a decrease in average leg pain with a VAS score of 31.15 mm in the acupuncture group and 19.91 mm in the sham acupuncture group (p=0.026). In the RCT by Zhang et al. the EA group showed a significant decrease in average leg pain with a NRS score 2.30 compared to the MFE control group with an NRS score of 1.06 (p<0.001). In the nonrandomized controlled trial by He et al. patient reported recovery was 100% in the acupuncture group and only 20% in the control group being treated with bed rest (p<0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: Articles by Zhang et al. and Huang et al. displayed a greater change in baseline average leg pain compared to the control groups and the article by He et al. showed resolution of postpartum sciatica pain after 4 weeks of treatment with acupuncture therapy proving it is an efficacious way of treating sciatica pain. Further studies with larger, more diverse sample sizes, control groups similar to acupuncture so blinding can be achieved, longer treatment periods and longer term follow up must be conducted to confirm the validity of these results.