Acupuncture is a form of therapy in which fine single-use sterile needles are inserted into specific
points on the body. Practitioners may also use additional techniques alongside acupuncture such as
moxibustion, cupping, massage and electro-acupuncture, all of which will be explained by the
Is acupuncture safe?
Extensive research has shown that reported adverse events following acupuncture are incredibly
rare and that most side effects are mild and pass very quickly.
Serious side effects following
acupuncture are uncommon, with research showing that on average only 1 in 10,000 treatments
results in a significant side effect.
The most common minor side effects are -
• minor bleeding
• mild pain at the site of needling
• Sometimes aggravation of symptoms before improvement.
In addition, some patients experience other responses including:
• drowsiness, tiredness and feeling relaxed
• fainting during treatment, although this is rare and most likely during the first treatment.
Most people feel pleasantly relaxed with no ill effects after treatment.
Is there anything your practitioner needs to know?
Your practitioner will always take a thorough case history before commencing treatment. It is
important that they have as much detail as possible about your medical history and any medication
you are taking.
You should let your practitioner know if you:
• have ever experienced a fit, faint or funny turn
• have a pacemaker, or any other electrical implants
• have a bleeding disorder
• are taking anticoagulants, immune suppressants or any other medication
• have damaged heart valves or any particular risk of infection
What to do if you experience any side effects following acupuncture
If you have any concerns following treatment you should contact your practitioner for further
Your practitioner can deal with the majority of incidents and refer you on if necessary.
important to make your practitioner aware of any responses you have to treatment; they can then
adjust any future treatments and make sure that whatever you are experiencing is not out of the
The majority of minor adverse events pass very quickly following treatment, usually within
24 to 48 hours.
Having spoken to your practitioner, if you still have concerns you should or arrange to discuss your
symptoms with your GP.
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