Acupuncture Side Effects

Unwanted side effects associated with acupuncture are treatment is minor, harmless and infrequent and non-lasting. They are not of any concern or serious nature if done by trained acupuncturist, who is well versed with anatomy, physiology and psychology. Whatever side effects mentioned here, are only to make you aware of those before taking acupuncture treatment. Though not serious or frequent, following is list to make you aware of Acupuncture Side Effects

Acupuncture Side Effects

Infrequent But Possible Side Effects of Acupuncture

In my experience, the following seven side effects can occur after acupuncture.

Worse Symptoms

While most people notice a marked improvement in their symptoms following acupuncture, some feel worse before they start feeling better. In natural medicine circles, this is sometimes referred to as a healing crisis. The idea is that as your body starts undergoing the changes involved in moving toward health, things get stirred up. This can cause not only an exacerbation of current symptoms but also the recurrence of previous ailments that had been dormant.

Acupuncture awakens your self-healing capabilities. With that can come an onslaught of bodily awareness. This usually is a positive experience but it also can mean heightened sensitivity or intolerance for things that previously felt normal. An example of this is someone who unconsciously adapts to stress by tightening and hunching up his shoulders. After an acupuncture treatment, once this person's bodily felt sense has been woken up, his mild upper back and neck tension might start screaming. The good news about this side effect is that it's a sign that things are moving. In the case of acupuncture, this means that the primary objective is being met. That is, you are starting to transition on multiple levels from stuck to unstuck.


People can feel wiped out after acupuncture. A more common result is increased energy, but sometimes the "acu land" effect hangs on a little longer. This is your body telling you that it's depleted. Feeling fatigued after acupuncture is not cause for concern, but it is a warning sign that you need to rest.

If you have this experience, take it easy for the remainder of the day. Take a bath that night. Go to bed early. Come morning, the combination of acupuncture and rest will leave you feeling born again.


Body parts where acupuncture needles get inserted can feel sore after needles are removed. I've found that this most commonly occurs with points in the hands and feet, especially Large Intestine 4, an acupuncture point located between the thumb and index finger. You also may experience muscle soreness away from the needling site if a trigger or ashi point was released during your treatment. Soreness from acupuncture typically dissipates within 24 hours. However, big trigger point releases can cause residual soreness that lasts a few days. Most acupuncturists will warn you about this before you leave your appointment.


Although less common than soreness, bruising can occur at the needling site. Sometimes bruising is the result of a hematoma, a localized collection of blood that gets initiated when the needle punctures the skin. Bruises, unfortunately, usually last longer than soreness from an acupuncture needle. Still, they generally are not anything to worry about beyond the aesthetic inconvenience. It is unknown why some people bruise from acupuncture. I have a few patients who, no matter what I try in terms of needle brand, size or technique, they bruise every time. (Again, I often see it happen at Large Intestine 4.) Others -- the majority -- never experience bruising anywhere.

Muscle Twitching

Every time I get acupuncture, no matter where the needles are placed, my right quadricep muscle twitches like crazy. Don't ask me why. People may experience involuntary muscle twitching during or after acupuncture. I've seen this occur in muscles that receive acupuncture needles and, as in my case, on seemingly random parts of the body that are far away from any needles.

Muscle twitching is different from full-on muscle spasm. If during or after an acupuncture treatment you feel that one of your muscles is acutely spasming, especially if it's a muscle that was just needled, tell your acupuncturist. He or she might be able to release it before you go on your merry way.


This is pretty rare, but it can happen -- and on very rare occasions, post-acupuncture lightheadedness can result in fainting. Getting up quickly from the acupuncture table can cause lightheadedness, as can coming for acupuncture on an empty stomach. Remember that eating is one of the key things to remember before an acupuncture appointment.

When your acupuncture session is over, take your time getting up and move gently as you gather your things to leave. If you find yourself feeling lightheaded after the treatment, sit in your acupuncturist's waiting room for a few minutes and take some deep breaths. Acupuncture can be a physically and emotionally intense experience, and sometimes our bodies are not fully recovered at exactly the moment our hour is up. It is okay if you need a little extra time.

Emotional Release

Sometimes people cry in acupuncture. Not because they're in pain, but because their emotions, which can get stifled while powering through life, become free-flowing. The emotional release that can happen in acupuncture usually is a positive experience, but it can be surprising, especially for people who tend to be more emotionally stoical. Feeling extra sensitive or tear-prone in an acupuncture session, or in the days that follow, is completely normal. It's also a sign that the acupuncture is working. Even if you're seeking acupuncture for a physical ailment, increased emotional expression is an indication that healing is happening. From an acupuncture perspective, physical and emotional health are interconnected, so emotional shifts suggest forthcoming physical changes as well.

While these side effects are rarely cause for concern, you know your body best. If any of the above side effects feel like they're too severe or lasting too long -- or if you notice any additional negative reactions to an acupuncture treatment -- you should contact your acupuncturist.

Feeling Giddiness

Few patients may feel light headedness or giddiness or perspiration during acupuncture treatment. Some may feel light headedness while getting up from table after treatment. That is because of cardiovascular dynamics adjust to change of position. I advise my patients to wait for some time in waiting room, and see me before they go. Waiting generally resolves the issue.


After Acupuncture treatment you may feel soreness at point of needle insertion. The effect vanishes in few minutes or may last a day. It also sign that needle was at right place.


Every individual responds differently to acupuncture stimulation. Some patients who form group of about 85- 90 percent are good responders where as 10 to 12 percent just don’t respond at all; whereas few will respond too much aggravating the original ailment. Such aggravation eventually subsides and patients get relief. It is for this reason; I start with minimal stimulation with needles and increase its strength on next session.


Bleeding in some patients on acupuncture treatment is rare and minor incidence. Bruising may also be seen in bleeding is under skin. If you give little pressure on site of bleeding for 5 minutes, bleeding stops. You do not need to do for such incidences.

Muscle Twitching

Acupuncture is stimulation of particular point or area. This stimulation is not restricted to point of insertion of needle. It radiates to all directions. Therefore muscle twitching is common and harmless side effect of Acupuncture. Muscle twitching is seen more commonly in electro- acupuncture which is again normal.

Emotional Swarming

After Acupuncture treatment, one may be emotionally charged and may feel euphoric or cry for some time. It may not be due to relief of chronic pain. This is momentary phenomenon and subsides soon. It proves effectiveness of acupuncture that physical and emotional status is interconnected.


Feeling drained on day of acupuncture treatment is also not uncommon, all needs is some rest or sleep. This signifies relation of acupuncture treatment and release Chi.

Complication of Acupuncture

There is no complication of acupuncture unless done very carelessly by untrained persons not knowing basic anatomy of human body. In such rare situation

Pneumo-thorax due puncture of lung can be serious issue will need immediate emergency medical help. Damage to major blood vessel or nerve can be one very rare complication.

Studies from various sources have confirmed that acupuncture is safe as reported by

National Library of Medicine

“Acupuncture has adverse effects, like any therapeutic approach. If it is used according to established safety rules and carefully at appropriate anatomic regions, it is a safe treatment method.”

Bonus Effects of Acupuncture

Advantages of acupuncture in Medical Practice

Acupuncture treatment is very versatile and can fit at any stage of given disease, in hands of qualified physician who has allopathic medical education. He can use it in precondition of disease or in initial stage of disease exclusively, to treat the problem. He can also use it in later stages of diseases like malignancy as palliative therapy. He has option to use benefit of acupuncture treatments along with allopathic treatment to accentuate the response to treatment.

Sometimes acupuncture therapy is also demanded in initial state, before conventional methods, like pain of sciatica. It is also demanded after conventional methods have exhausted their scope like pain in spite of surgery for sciatica. It acts best when taken in initial stage of disease like pain frozen shoulder. Pre-morbid state of diseases responds best to acupuncture.

Additional Good Effects of Acupuncture

When you are having acupuncture treatment for certain disease, you may be surprised with of experience additional beneficial health effects like stated below.

Less Pain : When getting treatment for any disease you perceive less pain because acupuncture initiates release of neurotransmitters, analgesic, like opioids, serotonin and oxytotocin.

Quality Sleep : During treatment you may experience refreshing sleep because of action of limbic system resulting into relaxation.

Stronger Immune System :Acupuncture stimulates immune system and results in stronger immune status.

More Energy : You might experience more energy and sense of wellbeing because reaction of limbic system to acupuncture

A Boost In Confidence : You can also feel self confidence is due to euphoria associate with limbic system effect

More Patience : You will have more patience which is due to calmness which acupuncture produces.

Better Digestion and Flatter Stomach : You might have better digestion and falter abdomen due to action of acupuncture on digestive system.

Better Sex : Patients may see sense of wellbeing results into better sex.

Less stress : Stress is reduced result of calmness as result of limbic system

A More Youthful Appearance