Immediate relief of herniated lumbar disc-related sciatica by ankle acupuncture: A study protocol for a randomized controlled clinical trial

Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Dec;96(51):e9191. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000009191.


Background: Around 90% of sciatica cases are due to a herniated intervertebral disc in the lumbar region. Ankle acupuncture (AA) has been reported to be effective in the treatment of acute nonspecific low back pain. This study aims to evaluate the efficacy of a single session of ankle acupuncture for disc-related sciatica.

Method: This will be a double-blinded, randomized controlled clinical trial. Patients diagnosed with disc-related sciatica will be randomly divided into 3 parallel groups. The treatment group (n = 30) will receive ankle acupuncture. The 2 control groups will either undergo traditional needle manipulation (n = 30) or sham acupuncture (n = 30) at the same point as the treatment group. The primary outcome will be pain intensity on a visual analog scale (VAS). The secondary outcomes will be paresthesia intensity on a VAS and the Abbreviated Acceptability Rating Profile (AAPR). The success of blinding will be evaluated, and the needle-induced sensation and adverse events will be recorded. All outcomes will be evaluated before, during, and after the treatment.

Discussion: This study will determine the immediate effect and specificity of ankle acupuncture for the treatment of disc-related sciatica. We anticipate that ankle acupuncture might be more effective than traditional needle manipulation or sham acupuncture.

Trial registration: ChiCTR-IPR-15007127 (

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Ankle Joint*
  • China
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / complications*
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnosis
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis
  • Low Back Pain / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement*
  • Reference Values
  • Sciatica / etiology
  • Sciatica / physiopathology
  • Sciatica / therapy*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome