Most people find their acupuncture treatments relaxing. Others may experience minimal discomfort. Adverse effects and complications are almost entirely absent. Acupuncture Canada trains professionals to use sterile single use needles so there is no risk of infection or transmission of disease.
Aching, heat and heaviness are often experienced during acupuncture treatment. This is the “deQi effect.” For most patients these sensations are brief. For others (0.5%) the sensation may last from five minutes to several hours. Your practitioner will not consider this an undesirable outcome.
- A study of more than 3000 acupuncture treatments* has identified how often discomfort during or after treatment occurs:
- For 2.9% of patients a small amount of bleeding appears at the needle site. This usually stops within minutes of the needle being removed. Bleeding is more likely in patients who take Aspirin or blood thinners. Let your practitioner know if you use these medications.
- 2.2% of patients (often the same people who experience bleeding) develop a small bruise at the needle site. This usually disappears within a few days.
- 1.4% experience fatigue
- 1.0% experience a brief feeling of dizziness that disappears during treatment
- 0.9% experience brief, low-level pain while the needle is in place or after the needle is removed. This sensation generally lasts for less than five minutes.
- Other sensations include tingling (0.5%); sweating (0.3%); nausea (0.1%). If any of these continues for more than two minutes your practitioner will end your session and remove the needles.
- 0.1% of patients have fainted.
* Ernst et al. (2003)
Significant adverse effects
As in any treatment there is some risk: twelve prospective studies surveying over one million treatments estimate the risk of serious adverse events to be between 0.05% to 0.55% in 10,000 patients.
Therefore, the risk of a serious adverse event is considered very low.