Is acupuncture safe?
In 2 surveys – one of members of the British Medical Acupuncture Society and the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists and the second of members of the British Acupuncture Council – involving 66,000 acupuncture treatments published in the British Medical Journal, no 'serious' side-effects were reported,
There were a total of 43 'significant' events which included:
• 6 occurrences of fainting
• 5 needles left in patients after treatment
• 1 skin infection
• 2 patients who felt anxious or panicked
• 3 patients who felt sick or vomited
All symptoms cleared within a week, except for one patient who experienced pain that lasted for 2 weeks.
This is an extremely good safety record and far better than many widely used drugs or medical interventions.
The most serious complication of acupuncture that I have personally experienced over 25 years of practicing is of one patient who fainted.
Mild side-effectsThe most common side-effects experienced by patients receiving acupuncture treatments are:
• Pain or discomfort on needle insertion
• Bleeding from the needle site - nearly always very mild and transient
• Worsening of symptoms - usually temporary and likely to be followed by an improvement