Scottsdale Acupuncture


Is Acupuncture Safe?

Posted Monday, June 27th, 2016 by

acupuncture, safe

Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been practiced for centuries in order to relieve pain and cure certain illnesses. According to tradition an energy called “qi” is continuously flowing through your body and any unbalance or blockage can cause illnesses and pain. Practitioners use acupuncture to influence qi and unblock their pathways in order to help the flow back to normal.

Acupuncture is carried out by putting extremely thin needles through the skin at specific points on the body. The different points on the body are connected to different organs and tissue which needs to be precisely studied for more effective acupuncture. The needles help the body to get balanced again. Some practitioners, according to the illness or intensity of the pain, may even use pressure, heat or mild electric currents along with the needles. For more details about acupuncture click here.

The Process of Acupuncture

Before any treatment, a licensed acupuncturist will perform a through intake and ask you a multitude of questions based on your body functioning, the intensity of pain and the exact location of pain/ailment.  After reviewing your symptoms the practitioner will look for the certain blockage/sensitive points where there is a disharmony. Certain acupuncture points and specific parts of the body are then needled.  There can be multiple needles placed in the same region and some might even be deeper than the others. It all depends on what the licensed acupuncturist believes is required to relieve the disharmony.

An acupuncture treatment can last from anywhere to 15 minutes up to an hour depending of the case. There might be several sessions needed to bring the body functionality back to normal, the number may vary depending on how chronic the condition is.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

Globally many people receive acupuncture every day and for the majority of cases there are no reported side effects.  Occasionally patients will report experiencing the following;

  • Acupuncture needles left in the patients much longer than it is advised.
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Unconsciousness

There have been much more serious cases as well, after or during an acupuncture session, including pneumothorax, which is often the result of getting acupuncture from an unlicensed acupuncturist. The occurrence of this is roughly 1.5% from all the patients undergoing an acupuncture treatment.  However, if the acupuncture session is performed by a licensed acupuncturist, there should not be any side effects and the treatment is safe.

One major benefit of acupuncture is that it doesn’t rely on harmful toxic substances as compared to other drugs and pain killers like NSAID’s and opioids. Though the effectiveness of acupuncture might be slower as compared to the conventional methods of taking medicines to relieve pain and illnesses.

Acupuncture Safety Concerns

Since skin penetration is involved in the acupuncture process, it is an invasive procedure. And all invasive procedures have certain health risks associated with them. There is a risk of mild and serious complications, both.

The following is a compilation of all possible complications involved in an acupuncture session:

  • Injury – There is a small possibility that the needle could puncture a vital nerve or important organ, damaging it permanently or temporarily. However, if you are getting the treatment done by a trained professional, there is nothing you have to worry about.
  • Bleeding – Because of its invasive nature, acupuncture can lead to bleeding, bruising or other injuries caused by the needle pricking. However, more advanced techniques avoid pricking needles and instead, they tap or stroke along the lines through which an individual’s chi is flowing. Acupuncture styles following this technique include Toyohari and Shonishin.
  • Other Risks – These can include anything from bruising, bleeding, dizziness, to fainting and vomiting. Acupuncture can also start paresthesia or a change in the sensation of that specific area. Finally, there are also chances of getting an increased amount of pain after the acupuncture session, however, this only lasts temporarily.
  • Pregnancy Complications – Getting acupuncture done by an unlicensed acupuncturist while you are pregnant may lead to the injury if certain acupuncture points are used. It is important to note that this is hardly ever the case when you are in the hands of a fully licensed acupuncturist.

Further details can be found here.


Even though acupuncture has its potential risks and adverse effects, as with all other medications and treatments, it is important to understand the fact that all common risks are not serious and all serious risks are not common. In fact, with a licensed, experienced, trained professional even the rarest of risks are almost completely diminished.

No matter what the intensity of risks are involved, if you are getting treated by an acupuncture specialist, you will definitely feel that improvement is worth it. What’s more, most of the side effects caused by acupuncture are much less serious and complicated as compared to those side effects caused by prescription and over the counter medications.

Even treatments such as homeopathy – which seem completely harmless – have their fair share of risks. In fact, in most cases, homeopathy is often overestimated and is used to replace modern day medicine which usually leads to worsening of the condition.

Acupuncture is definitely a safe bet especially if done by a licensed and trained professional. Most risks are dependent on the professional you choose and this can easily be overcome. This means in the right hands, you will be praising your acupuncturist no matter which illness you have.

For more information about the safety of acupuncture click here.

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