Acupuncturist Questions Acupuncture

How often does acupuncture cause bacterial infections?

Are bacterial infections a common risk with acupuncture? I want to get treatment for chronic pain in my hand, but there's a cut on my palm that's still healing (this was from an accident at work). Should I hold off on the treatment?

26 Answers

Not at all. We are legally required to use clean needle technique and are trained just like nurses in using Universal Precautions to prevent the chance of infection from our needles. If you came to my office, I would avoid putting needles near or in open wounds and just use other points... which would still help, even if local needles were indicated.
Whoever you choose to go to for acupuncture will be able to assess your individual circumstance. Bacterial infections are not a COMMON risk with acupuncture. Make sure the person who is doing the treatment is fully licensed.
No need to hold off on treatment, and acupuncture should never cause an infection. It will, however, help you heal faster.
It's not common to see infections from acupuncture. Notify your acupuncturist and s/he will probably avoid the area of the wound. Acupuncture can help wounds heal faster, naturally, by using your body's innate capabilities!
Any acupuncturist has plaint of knowledge about infections. It's part of our training. Sure we can help with chronic pain in your hand. We do not need to treat the hand that has a wound. In acupuncture, there are lots of different ways to resolve a problem without touching the problematic site.
Be well, be confident, we can help.
This is very rare. Only an acupuncturist that has failed the Clean Needle Technique courses by CCAOM (CNT) may be a risk of you catching an infection. All needles are sterile. The only way you may catch an infection is if the needle is re-used (ILLEGAL), or if it fell on the ground and used again for treatment.

Again this is a very rare situation.
You should have acupuncture immediately, as it will help speed up the healing process. Acupuncture uses sterile needles so there is zero risk of bacterial infection from acupuncture.
Thank you for your question,

Acupuncture should never be done on an area where there is a rash, vesicle (fluid under the skin), or an open wound. In summary, a needle should never be inserted in an area where skin/tissue is compromised or has an infection already.

Needles can be placed in other areas of the body where there is not a risk of creating an infection from a rash or open wound.

Acupuncture should never cause a bacterial infection if proper technique is being used.

As long as the acupuncturist is using sanitary needles, which all should be, you should not have issues with bacteria. For added measure clean your hands well before having it done with a good antibacterial soap.
Good Luck!
No. As a mater of fact, acupuncture can help to speed up the healing of your injury. Usually, we don't put needles on the local injury area.
Usually, we put needle at the distal points and yet help the most.
Bacterial infection due to acupuncture needling is very rare, especially in the US where re-usable needles are forbidden. Acupuncturists are trained in clean needle technique and use only disposable one time use needles to minimize infection risk as much as possible. There are a few studies quantifying adverse events from acupuncture and the results are extremely low, most events being fainting after sessions or dizziness.

Having an open wound isn't a contraindication for treatment, but the area should be avoided. If you are an immunocompromised patient it would be advisable to wait for treatment to take all precautions necessary, but in a healthy individual risk of infection is still extremely low.
There is little to no risk of infection with acupuncture. We use sterile, single- use needles that are disposed of in medical biohazard containers after each patient session. A cut or any open wound will be avoided until fully healed. Practitioners are able to work around it and use other points on the body to ensure you still get a wholesome treatment.
Good afternoon,

In California by law only disposable needles can be administrated. If proper procedure is followed, there will be close to impossible to have any infection. It is the same risk like a medical doctor administrating a shot. In California, up to today, there's no record of infection caused by acupuncture therapy.

Bacterial infections from acupuncture are not common. Practitioners of Oriental Medicine in the U.S. are required to follow clean needle and clean clinic procedures by following the same requirements as western medical practitioners or clinics. For hand pain, it is not necessary to have acupuncture in that area. There are other distal acupuncture areas that would also be effective.
Never. An acupuncturist uses disposable needles. Acupuncture points are always wiped on by alcohol. It's the safest technique to practice.
Bacterial infections are very rare so long as your acupuncturist practices clean needle techniques. Clean needle technique is a certification all acupuncturists must pass before entering clinical practice in American schools. Basically, it means we learn how to properly swab the areas we plan to needle with alcohol, use clean needles with every insertion, and dispose of them into proper bio-hazard containers.

As for the cut on the palm of your hand, acupuncture poses no risk to worsening your condition. Because the skin is open, we would not apply treatment in that area.
I have never heard of an infection caused by acupuncture. The needles are sterile.

Glenn R. Williams, D.C., L.Ac.
No, bacterial infections are definitely NOT a common risk with acupuncture. We are VERY thoroughly trained and nationally tested on clean needle techniques. So I would check with the practitioner you want to see to find out if the cut will be in their way, but if they use meridian therapy, they may not even put needles in your hand.
All acupuncture is done in accordance with what is termed "clean needle technique". Acupuncture needles are sterile and come in sealed packages and are disposed of after each use. With "local" acupuncture, needles are placed in an area of concern, but there is another style that places needles in areas remote from the problem. No need to wait!
So rarely that I could almost say never, if single-use, sterile needles are used. In addition, it should be stated that in the US, acupuncturists cannot buy a malpractice insurance policy unless they commit to using single-use, sterile needles.
For this type of condition, other points in the body may still be use to treat your chronic pain in your hand.
In my experience, I have never encountered bacterial infections from acupuncture. We use sterile, one-time use needles that are immediately disposed safely after use. Never will I ever insert needles into an open wound site, so that eliminates any risk. Acupuncture can help to minimize scarring, and nerve damage (if applicable) when performed correctly.
Infection due to acupuncture is extremely uncommon. Most acupuncturists utilize single use, factory sterilized needles. These needles are used one time on one patient and then discarded, so cross contamination is very rare.

If it's still a concern due to the cut on your palm, try to find someone who practices a distal form of acupuncture. These practitioners can treat your hand pain without putting needles in your hand. I know, to most folks it sounds weird, but this is the form of acupuncture that I practice and, particularly for pain, it's very effective.
No, acupuncture does not cause bacterial infections, as a matter of fact, it kills the bacterial infections. You can get acupuncture treatment while your palm still healing, actually it will help healing fast.
It is uncommon. I have never read any publication that acupuncture causes bacterial infections. A wound is commonly coming with pain. So we treat a lot of this kind of patients. You should be fine.
The pain in your hand would be treated with what we call distal points. These are areas away from the painful area (could be on the arm, or leg or even opposite arm/leg). We would never needle directly into an open wound.

The acupuncture treatment itself will not bring a bacterial infection to your hand anymore than brushing your teeth would. That is, as long as you didn't brush your teeth then brush your cut with the same toothbrush. A licensed practitioner would again, not needle into an open wound.

Licensed Acupuncturists (L.Ac.s) use single-use, pre-sterilized needles when working on patients. They also do not needle or directly handle open wounds on individuals. In my 20+ years of practice, no one has gotten an infection from my work.

Your wound can get infections from any place if it is not cleaned and covered/bandaged. I am assuming that you are keeping your cut covered with a breathable bandage and are making sure that you don't handle dirty or contaminated items with that hand. These same precautions of keeping it clean and covered should be done anywhere you go.