July 14, 2024
Home » Effectively Treating Sciatica without Surgery

Can non-surgical treatments like acupuncture and spinal decompression provide relief to individuals dealing with sciatica?


When many individuals start to feel pain running down their legs after a long day of activities, it causes them to have limited mobility and difficulty finding a place to rest. Many people think that they are just dealing with leg pain, but it can be more of an issue as they realize that it’s not just the leg pain they are experiencing but it is sciatica. While this long nerve comes from the lower back and travels down to the legs, it can succumb to pain and discomfort when herniated discs or muscles compress and aggravate the nerve. When this happens, it can impact a person’s mobility and quality of life, thus causing them to seek out treatment to reduce the pain from sciatica. Fortunately, alternative therapies like acupuncture and spinal decompression have been utilized to not only minimize sciatic pain but also provide positive, beneficial results. Today’s article looks at sciatica, how spinal decompression and acupuncture can relieve sciatica, and how integrating these two non-surgical treatments can lead to beneficial results. We talk with certified medical providers who consolidate our patients’ information to assess how sciatica can significantly impact a person’s well-being and quality of life. We also inform and guide patients on how integrating acupuncture therapy and spinal decompression can positively reduce sciatica. We encourage our patients to ask their associated medical providers intricate and important questions about incorporating non-surgical treatments into a wellness routine to relieve sciatica and its referred symptoms. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., includes this information as an academic service. Disclaimer.


Understanding Sciatica

Do you often experience numbness or tingling sensations from your lower back to your legs? Do you feel like your gait is feeling off balance? Or have you stretched your legs after being seated for a while, which provides temporary relief? While the sciatic nerve plays a pivotal role in motor function in the legs, when various factors, such as herniated discs and even pregnancy, start to aggravate the nerve, it can cause pain. Sciatica is a deliberating pain condition often mislabeled as low back pain or radicular leg pain due to these two musculoskeletal conditions. These are comorbidities and can be exacerbated by simple twists and turns. (Davis et al., 2024)



Additionally, when many individuals are doing repetitive motions or dealing with degenerative changes in the spine, the spinal discs are more prone to herniation. They may press on the spinal nerves, causing the neuron signals to invoke pain and discomfort in the lower extremities. (Zhou et al., 2021) At the same time, sciatica can be both spinal and extra-spinal sources in the lumbar spinal region, which causes many individuals to be in constant pain and looking for relief. (Siddiq et al., 2020) When sciatica pain starts to affect a person’s lower extremities, causing mobility issues, many people seek treatments to reduce the pain-like effects of sciatica. 


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Acupuncture For Reducing Sciatica Pain

When it comes to treating sciatica, many people can look into non-surgical treatments due to its affordability and effectiveness in reducing sciatica and its associated pain-like symptoms. Non-surgical treatments can be customized to the individual’s pain and be combined to restore a person’s quality of life. Two non-surgical treatments that can help reduce sciatica are acupuncture and spinal decompression. Acupuncture has a long history of providing significant positive effects on lowering sciatic pain and improving a person’s quality of life. (Yuan et al., 2020) Highly trained professionals from China use acupuncture and incorporate small solid needles to provide instant relief from sciatica’s associated symptoms. This is because acupuncture exerts analgesic effects by regulating microglia activation, inhibiting the body’s natural inflammatory response, and modulating receptors along the pain pathway in the nervous system. (Zhang et al., 2023) To this point, acupuncture can stimulate the body’s acupoints to restore balance.


The Effects Of Acupuncture

One of the effects of acupuncture for relieving sciatica is that it can reduce pain intensity by changing the brain’s activity patterns when the pain receptors are disrupted. (Yu et al., 2022) Additionally, when acupuncturists start to stimulate the nerves in the muscles and tissues, they release endorphins and other neurohumoral factors that help change the pain process in the nervous system. Acupuncture helps reduce inflammation while improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility through increasing microcirculation to reduce swelling while blocking sciatica pain from affecting the lower extremities. 


Spinal Decompression For Relieving Sciatica Pain


Another form of non-surgical treatment is spinal decompression, and it can help reduce the effects of sciatica and its associated pain symptoms. Spinal decompression utilizes a traction table to gently stretch the spine to create a negative pressure within the spinal disc and free up the affected nerves. For sciatica individuals, this non-surgical treatment relieves the sciatic nerve as spinal decompression helps reduce the pain intensity and improve mobility function in the lower extremities. (Choi et al., 2022) The main objective of spinal decompression is to create space within the spinal canal and neural structures to release the aggravated sciatic nerve from causing more pain. (Burkhard et al., 2022


The Effects Of Spinal Decompression

Many individuals can begin to feel relief from incorporating spinal decompression in their wellness treatment. This non-surgical treatment promotes fluids and nutrients to the spinal disc to kick-start the body’s natural healing process. When the spine is being gently stretched, there is less pressure on the sciatic nerves, which can alleviate the pain and improve mobility. Additionally, many individuals will feel their flexibility and mobility back in their lumbar region.


Integrating Acupuncture and Spinal Decompression For Relief

So, when many people start to integrate spinal decompression and acupuncture as a holistic and non-surgical approach for relieving sciatica, the results and benefits are positive. While spinal decompression targets the mechanical healing of the spinal disc and reducing nerve pressure, acupuncture focuses on relieving the pain and reducing inflammation at a systemic level. This enhances the body’s natural healing process and offers a synergistic effect to improve treatment outcomes. Non-surgical treatments like acupuncture and spinal decompression can provide a hopeful outcome for many individuals seeking relief from their sciatic pain without resorting to surgical procedures. These treatments allow the individual to regain their mobility in their lower extremities, reduce pain, and improve their quality of life by making people more mindful of their bodies and reducing the chances of sciatica from returning. By doing so, many individuals can live a healthier and pain-free lifestyle.



Burkhard, M. D., Farshad, M., Suter, D., Cornaz, F., Leoty, L., Furnstahl, P., & Spirig, J. M. (2022). Spinal decompression with patient-specific guides. Spine J, 22(7), 1160-1168. doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2022.01.002

Choi, E., Gil, H. Y., Ju, J., Han, W. K., Nahm, F. S., & Lee, P. B. (2022). Effect of Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression on Intensity of Pain and Herniated Disc Volume in Subacute Lumbar Herniated Disc. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 2022, 6343837. doi.org/10.1155/2022/6343837

Davis, D., Maini, K., Taqi, M., & Vasudevan, A. (2024). Sciatica. In StatPearls. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29939685

Siddiq, M. A. B., Clegg, D., Hasan, S. A., & Rasker, J. J. (2020). Extra-spinal sciatica and sciatica mimics: a scoping review. Korean J Pain, 33(4), 305-317. doi.org/10.3344/kjp.2020.33.4.305

Yu, F. T., Liu, C. Z., Ni, G. X., Cai, G. W., Liu, Z. S., Zhou, X. Q., Ma, C. Y., Meng, X. L., Tu, J. F., Li, H. W., Yang, J. W., Yan, S. Y., Fu, H. Y., Xu, W. T., Li, J., Xiang, H. C., Sun, T. H., Zhang, B., Li, M. H., . . . Wang, L. Q. (2022). Acupuncture for chronic sciatica: protocol for a multicenter randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open, 12(5), e054566. doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-054566

Yuan, S., Huang, C., Xu, Y., Chen, D., & Chen, L. (2020). Acupuncture for lumbar disc herniation: Protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore), 99(9), e19117. doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000019117

Zhang, Z., Hu, T., Huang, P., Yang, M., Huang, Z., Xia, Y., Zhang, X., Zhang, X., & Ni, G. (2023). The efficacy and safety of acupuncture therapy for sciatica: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trails. Front Neurosci, 17, 1097830. doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2023.1097830

Zhou, J., Mi, J., Peng, Y., Han, H., & Liu, Z. (2021). Causal Associations of Obesity With the Intervertebral Degeneration, Low Back Pain, and Sciatica: A Two-Sample Mendelian Randomization Study. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne), 12, 740200. doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2021.740200


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The information herein on "Effectively Treating Sciatica without Surgery" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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Specialties: Stopping the PAIN! We Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal Mobility, Posture Control, Deep Health Instruction, Integrative & Functional Medicine, Functional Fitness, Chronic Degenerative Disorder Treatment Protocols, and Structural Conditioning. We also integrate Wellness Nutrition, Wellness Detoxification Protocols, and Functional Medicine for chronic musculoskeletal disorders. In addition, we use effective "Patient Focused Diet Plans," Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Cross-Fit Protocols, and the Premier "PUSH Functional Fitness System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems.
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