Acupuncture is an alternative medical practice that stimulates certain points on the body, most often with a needle penetrating the skin, to relieve pain or treat various health conditions. Traditional Chinese medicine explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy of life force (chi or qi) that is believed to flow through pathways in your body.
Rare but Possible Side Effects
Although rare, there are some possible side effects to acupuncture. None are life threatening and all are typically short lived, but they are still good to be aware of. However, it’s important for you to know that these are all completely normal side effects and nothing to be too concerned over. And certainly not something worth discontinuing your acupuncture treatments.
Although most people feel better after having acupuncture done, some do feel worse before they get better. As your body begins to feel the changes involved in working on your health, toxins, energies, and many other things can get stirred up. This can cause a spike in current symptoms but can also bring up illnesses that have been lying dormant. Acupuncture can also mean a heightened intolerance for things that were easy to manage previously. It also shouldn’t last very long.
A common result of acupuncture is increased energy, but occasionally people can feel wiped out after. If this happens, it is just your body letting you know that it has depleted energy. Although, it isn’t a cause for concern, it is your body telling you that you need to rest. So, it is ideal if you listen! Take it easy for the remainder of the day; take a bath, go to bed early, drink lots of water. By the next day, the rest and acupuncture should have you feeling good as new.
Soreness from where acupuncture needles get inserted, usually dissipates within a day. Unfortunately, big trigger point releases can cause lingering soreness that lasts for a few days. It is possible to experience muscle soreness at the puncture site as well as away from the site if a trigger point was released during your appointment. Your acupuncturist should warn you if any of the trigger points they’re hitting could cause these temporary negative side effects.
Even more rare than soreness, bruising can happen at the puncture sites. Sometimes bruising is the result of localized collection of blood under the skin that gets irritated during the procedure. Other times even the slight pressure of acupuncture could cause mild bruising. Even still, sometimes the reason is unknown. Usually, they aren’t anything to worry about, beyond the fact that it could be unappealing visually. Most patients do not experience bruising of any sort.
It is quite possible that you could experience muscle twitching during or after acupuncture. This can occur in the muscles that are receiving the needle but also in seemingly random parts of the body not near the puncture site. If during or after treatment you experience twitching, tell your acupuncturist. They should be able to help you ensure the muscle is released before you leave.
A very rare side effect of acupuncture is lightheadedness. And on the very rare chance this happens to a patient, it is possible that fainting could occur. If you do start to feel lightheadedness, either immediately after or within the next 24 hours, sit down as soon as possible to negate some of the side effects of fainting (like scrapes, broken bones, or a concussion). When you get up from the acupuncture table, do so slowly, and before you get to the table, make sure you have something in your stomach and are hydrated. These steps can help negate any chance of lightheadedness after your appointment.
Emotions can get muted while walking through life. This can cause an emotional release in acupuncture that can become free with the release of tension and can in rare cases even lead to crying. An emotional release is common, and usually a good experience, however it can seem negative, especially in people who keep their emotions well hidden. Acupuncture can be a physically and emotionally intense experience, and sometimes our bodies are not fully recovered as soon as your appointment is over.
Most Common Side Effects
There are five much more common side effects of acupuncture. Insomnia is one of the most common complaints prior to treatment, and acupuncture can be very effective at reversing that. And although acupuncture can cause fatigue, a more common after effect is usually increased energy. Along with the improved physical clarity and energy, some patients also notice an increased mental clarity, making them a bit more confident and able to make decisions faster. Digestion can also be affected positively by acupuncture since the organ systems and digestion are intimately connected to all other structures and functions throughout the body! Finally, although emotional release can sometimes be of negative emotions, it can lead to heightened awareness, mood balancing and better stress management, and less stress in the long run.
Ready to Get Started?
So while on the very rare occasion that something negative comes out of your acupuncture treatment, please be sure that the benefits of acupuncture far outweigh the temporary negative side effects. At Thumos Health Center, we specialize in acupuncture and Chinese herbology, optimizing the natural balance of body and mind that promotes self-healing. Call us today at (310) 927-2792 to schedule an appointment. Find a location near you or contact us today with any questions you may have.