Healthy Living

The Risks of Acupuncture

The Risks of Acupuncture

The risks associated with acupuncture are minimal if you have a competent, qualified acupuncture practitioner.

Possible complications and side effects include:

Worsening of Pre-existing Symptoms

Whilst most people experience a significant improvement in their condition following acupuncture, some patients feel worse before they begin feeling better. This situation is sometimes described as a healing crisis. This can lead to the exacerbation of existing symptoms as well as the recurrence of previous illnesses that had been quite dormant.

Acupuncture stimulates your body’s self-healing capabilities; therefore, triggering an onslaught of bodily immune awareness. This is often a positive experience, although it may also imply hypersensitivity or intolerance for aspects that initially felt normal. Fortunately, this side effect is an indication of a positive response. With acupuncture, this implies that the primary goal is being met. That is, you’re beginning to transition from stuck to unstuck.


Body sites where acupuncture needles pierce into the skin can feel extremely sore once the needles are removed. This usually occurs on your hands and feet, large intestine, or an acupuncture point situated between the index finger and thumb. You also might experience muscle soreness in places far away from the needling site if triggers were released during treatment.

Soreness resulting from acupuncture typically disappears within 24 hours. Nevertheless, large trigger point releases might cause severe residual soreness that persists for a few days. Many acupuncturists will notify you about this before you book an appointment.

Organ Injury

If the acupuncture needles are inserted so deep, they could end up puncturing an internal organ, especially a lung. However, this is a very rare complication, particularly in the hands of a professional practitioner.


Experienced, licensed acupuncturists should utilize highly sterile, disposable needles. Reused needles could expose the patient to serious diseases like hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. Not all people are good candidates for acupuncture or certain forms of acupuncture. Disorders that might increase your risks for serious complications include:

  • Bleeding disorders - The possibility of bruising or bleeding from acupuncture needles heightens if you’re suffering from a bleeding condition or if you are taking blood thinners like warfarin or Coumadin, so inform your acupuncturist about it.
  • Being pregnant - Some kinds of acupuncture can trigger labor that could lead to a premature delivery.
  • Having a pacemaker - An acupuncture session that involves the application of mild electrical pulses to the acupuncture needles may interfere with the pacemaker’s operation.


Although less common, bruising may occur at the acupuncture points. Sometimes, bruising results from hematoma, a confined collection of blood that gets initiated when the needles puncture the skin. Unfortunately, bruises persist longer than soreness caused by the acupuncture needles. Still, they aren’t usually something to worry about since they easily disappear within a short period of time. It’s unclear why some patients get bruises from acupuncture.

Emotional Release

Some people cry during acupuncture. Not because they are in pain, but due to their emotions that might get stifled whilst powering through life, and become free-flowing. The emotional release that happens in acupuncture is often a positive experience, but it might be surprising, particularly for patients who tend to be emotionally stoical.

Feeling hypersensitive or tear-prone during or after an acupuncture session is completely normal. It also indicates that the acupuncture is working appropriately. None of the acupuncture-related side effects or complications is life-threatening, and most of them are typically fleeting. However, if they turn out to be more severe, you can consult your doctor.