Acupuncturist Questions Acupuncture

Can acupuncture be dangerous?

I'm 28 years old, male, and I am considering acupuncture treatment for my back pain. Can acupuncture be dangerous?

27 Answers

Yes, it can be dangerous with an inadequately trained practitioner. Be cautious in choosing a practitioner. I would avoid Physical therapists, doctors and chiropractors practicing dry needling or acupuncture as they are not adequately trained, in my opinion, and are not in fact practicing the art of Acupuncture...
Acupuncture is not dangerous for any conditions with a good or licensed practitioner!
Acupuncture, when done by a trained, licensed, and experienced practitioner, is a very non-invasive medical treatment. Acupuncture has minimal adverse side effects. Please investigate your practitioner's experience with your state licensing board.
Acupuncture is not dangerous if done with a doctor of Oriental Medicine.
If you see a licensed acupuncturist, it should not be.
Any medical treatment can be considered dangerous in the wrong hands. As acupuncture needles are very thin, there is significantly less risk. When seeking acupuncture treatment, ensure you are looking at their qualifications and visiting with a licensed acupuncturist.
Acupuncture is very safe unless you try to do it yourself or have someone who is not a trained and licensed acupuncturist preform the treatment.

Valerie Ducos, L.Ac.

Thank you for your question.

Asking if acupuncture is "dangerous" signals to me perhaps a fear of this type of treatment modality(?) In a licensed skilled practitioner who is treating for back pain, the risks should be minimal to none. Whenever a needle is being used, there is always a risk of bleeding, infection, or piercing a tissue excessively or in the wrong place. The risker types of acupuncture are those that do deep needling near an organ. Rarely in the US are such techniques used. Speak with your acupuncturist about your concerns, as they should be able to explain the procedure to you and any risks. If you are not satisfied with their explanation or experience, then choose another practitioner or forgo the treatment altogether.

Hope this helps,


Acupuncture is safe if treated by a licensed acupuncturist.


Scott Sang In Lee
Good morning,

Acupuncture is good for your back pain. If you go to see a licensed practitioner, you should not have any danger.

Acupuncture is not dangerous if ONLY a licensed acupuncturist is practicing it. It is recommended for back pain.

Alexandre Hillairet, DAOM.
Acupuncture is a very safe method to help people with all kinds of pains, ache and many other conditions. it will help you a lot
Hi there,
Acupuncture is extremely effective in treating back pain. If you go to a licensed professional, who is careful and a referred source all the better, risk of dangers are minimal. It would take a lot of ignorance and error to make dangerous this ancient Chinese method of effective healing which is nearly 5,000 years old. Best of luck!
No, not unless the person has received some form of quick training (ie a certification instead of a masters degree). I would not trust a physical therapist (as is being allowed in some states) or other profession other than Medical doctor or Acupuncturist to preform acupuncture techniques (or dry needling) without completing a 4 year masters degree.
Acupuncture is only dangerous when it is done by someone who had not been fully trained. The side effects of acupuncture are so rare that malpractice insurance for us is in the hundreds of dollars, not thousands, like it would for MD"s or other medical practitioners.

Most people who receive acupuncture feel better right away, almost all people who get acupuncture feel a stronger sense of wellbeing and relaxation. The most common 'negative' side effects are small droplets of blood released, minor bruising, minor aches where the needle was, dizziness (usually because patient didn't eat first or was very anxious about treatment), etc. Serious side effects like pneumothorax, again, are so rare and only happen with extreme negligence on the side of the practitioner or from untrained practitioners or a completely unexpected accident.

You seriously have more to worry about when taking medications than you ever would with a qualified Licensed Acupuncturist.
No. But if acupuncture is performed by someone who is not a licensed or certified acupuncturist, then yes. There are some physical therapists who can practice trigger point dry needling (a style of acupuncture) after a very short course in technique. Because they don't have the extensive understanding of needling techniques, they are at a higher risk of injuring patients. Generally speaking, if your practitioner is licensed (1,500-3,000 hours of study) or certified (a doctor who has taken a 300 hours or less course) then they have met all necessary criteria to perform acupuncture treatments correctly and safely. That being said, it is not uncommon to have soreness or minor bruising in the areas where the needles were placed.
Only if the doctor does not have an adequate training in acupuncture.
If performed by a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac) who has had formal and extensive training, the risk of serious injury is virtually unheard of. Be sure your practitioner is licensed and certified to practice acupuncture
No, it's not dangerous. It really can help you, but you need to find a good doctor.
When performed by a licensed acupuncturist, the procedure is usually very safe. That doesn't mean there aren't risks. Here are some of the potential problems:

1. Swelling, bruising or itching around the needle site. Swelling and bruising are generally very mild and resolve in a day or two. Itching is a very common experience and resolves in an hour or two.

2. Pain at the needle site. This happens occasionally and usually means the needle is a little too close to either a nerve or a capillary bed. If a needle remains sharply painful after insertion, tell your provider and have them either move or remove the needle.

3. When needles are placed over the chest or abdomen, there is a risk of organ puncture. The lungs are the most susceptible to this particular issue.

4. Very rarely, infection can be a concern. Most licensed acupuncturists utilize single use, factory sterilized needles and, in this case, infection risk is very low.

Anyone licensed as an acupuncturist has attended and graduated from a school of Chinese medicine, carries a clean needle certification (CNT) and, outside of CA, is NCCAOM board certified. We have a great deal of training in how to safely and cleanly insert and remove needles. We're also required to keep that training up to date through continuing education.

Where you're rolling the dice is with a non-acupuncturist provider like a PT or a chiropractor. They do not receive the same level of training, do not carry national board certification in the insertion/removal of needles and are not required to maintain these skills through continuing education.
Acupuncture can be dangerous if the practitioner has poor training and has no knowledge of the western anatomy. Besides that, all acupuncturists have over 1,000 clinical hours, and it's a safe healing modality.
No. Acupuncture needles are typically not much thicker than a hair, and their insertion is practically painless. The sensation is not comparable to receiving an ordinary injection. Be sure tell your doctor referring you to licensed acupuncturist.
Acupuncture done by a professional Acupuncturist is a very safe treatment. There is nothing to worry about.

Be well, be confident, we can help.
If the practitioner is not licensed, has not gone to an accredited Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine school, or has not had enough training.
No, fear not. There is nothing dangerous about acupuncture as long as your practitioner is a real acupuncturist. Some states allow MDs to take weekend courses and then treat their patients with acupuncture needles. I don't recommend that at all. But if you have someone who is fully licensed, you have nothing to worry about. And acupuncture can be extremely effective for back pain.
If performed by an Acupuncturist, it is typically extremely safe with very little if any side effects.