According to the World Health Organization, of the countries that report data to them, acupuncture is used in an incredible 103 out of 129. In the past 50 years, the practice has increased in popularity and is used to help alleviate a wide range of health issues, from chronic pain to mental health struggles. At Acupuncture That Works, we have helped countless patients to experience the unique benefits of acupuncture, but one of the most common questions we are asked is: “Is acupuncture safe?”. We understand these concerns which is why, in this article, we explore the safety aspects, including the risks, adverse side effects, who should avoid it, and when it might be unsafe.
What are acupuncture’s risks?
When carried out by a trained and qualified practitioner, acupuncture is considered to be a safe and effective method of addressing a number of health issues. According to NCCIH, relatively few complications from acupuncture have ever been reported. However, as with any medical procedure, it carries minor risks, which our practitioners will always make you aware of. The main risks associated with acupuncture include:
Bruised skin or bleeding
Some patients may occasionally experience light bruising or bleeding where the hair-thin needles have been inserted. This is generally harmless and will subside within a few hours after your session.
Reputable acupuncture clinics will always follow strict hygiene and health and safety protocols to ensure patients are never at risk of infection. However, if you receive acupuncture from an individual who has not correctly sterilised the needles, there will be a minimal risk of infection.
While most patients can hardly feel the needles, some may find acupuncture slightly uncomfortable, mainly when the needle is first inserted, but this should be temporary.
One of the rare ‘risks’ associated with acupuncture is feeling faint or dizzy during or after the session. Our practitioners find that those who fear needles, suffer anxiety leading up to the session, or have low blood pressure are generally more at risk of feeling faint.
Are there negative side effects from acupuncture?
We believe the incredible benefits of acupuncture far outweigh the mild and short-lived negative side effects that some patients experience. Often, patients leave feeling rested, more relaxed and rejuvenated after their acupuncture sessions. However, some may experience the following:
Feeling tired following an acupuncture session isn’t uncommon because your body has entered a state of relaxation and healing. We recommend patients stay hydrated and take it easy for the remainder of the day so that the body has time to recover and rebalance.
Feeling a slight soreness at the needle insertion site is not uncommon, but this will fade after the session and over the following days.
In rare cases, we have seen patients’ symptoms worsen briefly but then improve. This can be part of the body’s natural healing process and will not last long.
Who should not have acupuncture?
Acupuncture is generally a safe, non-invasive method of managing a range of health concerns, but we find it may not be suitable for the following individuals:
- People with bleeding disorders
- Pregnant women
- People with pacemakers or heart conditions
- People with metal allergies
- People with certain immune disorders
- People with certain skin conditions
We advise you to always consult your GP and speak to our team about any concerns you may have before receiving acupuncture.
When is acupuncture unsafe?
There is only one instance where we believe acupuncture to be unsafe, and that is when administered by an unqualified individual in unsanitary conditions. We always recommend that you check your practitioner is a licenced healthcare professional or a registered member of a national acupuncture organisation. The British Acupuncture Council is the UK’s leading regulatory body for the practice of traditional acupuncture and allows you to search their online registry for practitioners in your area.
Get in touch today
We hope that this article has helped answer that all-important question “Is acupuncture safe?” but if you have any questions or are interested in learning how you could benefit from sessions, feel free to explore our website or get in touch with us today on 0800 051 76 88.