Risk factors of Acupuncture Treatment

Like all treatments, acupuncture can cause side effects. The following ranking is used:

Very common: more than 1 out of 10 treated people

Common: 1 to 10 out of 100 treated people

Uncommon: 1 to 10 out of 1,000 treated people

Rare: 1 to 10 out of 10,000 treated people

Very rare: less than 1 out of 10,000 treated people, including singular incidents

The character of possible side effects also depends on the acupuncture points which were chosen for treatment. Please ask your doctor which points he or she will use. The following symptoms were experienced by patients treated with acupuncture:

Common: 1 to 10 out of 100 people treated

Common side effects are bleeding and haematoma (bruise) due to breaking a small blood vessel. Sometimes, small bleeding is a desired part of Chinese acupuncture treatment.

Uncommon: 1 to 10 of 1,000 treated people

Uncommon side effects observed in the context of acupuncture treatment include: inflammation at the application site, swelling, strong pain during needling, and local muscle pain. Nerve irritation or nerve injury is also possible. This can cause sensation difficulties or a temporary weakness in the associated musculature. Furthermore, headache, fatigue, and vegetative symptoms like vertigo and nausea were experienced. An initial aggravation of the symptoms which lead to the treatment is possible.

Rare: 1 to 10 out of 10,000 people treated

Rare side effects include: local infection, redness, itching, sweating, decrease of blood pressure, increase in blood pressure, unconsciousness, tachycardia, breathing difficulties, vomiting, worsening health state, generalised muscle pain, restricted movement, joint prob- lems, feeling of coldness, menstrual problems, depressive mood, anxiety, sleep disturbance, restlessness/ nervousness, disturbed vision and tinnitus.

Very rare: less than 1 out of 10,000 treated people, including singular incidents

Side effects observed in the context of acupuncture treatment include: palpitations, constipation, diarrhoea, gastrospasm (spasm in the stomach), enterospasm (spasm in the intestines), weight loss, circulatory disturbance, lesion of blood vessels, systemic infection, euphoria, nightmares, poor concentration, imbalance, disturbance of speech, disorientation, shivering, and eye irritation. Very rarely acupuncture needles can be forgotten or break. During treatment on the thorax a too deep insertion of an acupuncture needle can cause accumulation of air in the pleural cavity (pneumothorax). In the scientific literature injuries of the central nervous system and the pericardium have been reported.

The application of heat through burning mugwort (moxibustion) can cause burns.

Some of the side effects mentioned above can influence your fitness to drive!

If side effects occur during or after treatment, please inform your practitioner.

We advise our patients of the risks of Acupuncture by quoting the statistics we have taken from the 2.2 million treatments studied by largest German research of adverse responses to acupuncture. German Study