Should you be concerned about whether an acupuncture side effect could harm you? Probably not. Acupuncture is proven to be a very safe form of medicine.
The research consistently demonstrates that acupuncture is much more safe than the pharmaceutical drugs it is tested against. We read a lot of acupuncture studies, and one constant is how impressed the researchers are by the lack of serious side effects of acupuncture therapy.
Many of the side effects documented by researchers result when a practitioner makes a mistake. For example, some practitioners have not used sterile needles and have caused infections. Others have failed to refer patients to a medical doctor when needed. A few acupuncturists have punctured the lung or another organ with a needle.
The National Institutes of Health in their consensus statement about acupuncture wrote: “the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same condition. For example, musculoskeletal conditions, such as fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, and tennis elbow… are conditions for which acupuncture may be beneficial. These painful conditions are often treated with, among other things, anti-inflammatory medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.) or with steroid injections. Both medical interventions have a potential for deleterious side effects but are still widely used and are considered acceptable treatments.”
A Japanese survey was conducted of 55,291 acupuncture treatments given over five years by 73 acupuncturists, 99.8% of them were performed with no significant minor adverse effects and zero major adverse incidents.(1) Two combined studies in the UK of 66,229 acupuncture treatments yielded only 134 minor adverse events.(2) The total of 121,520 treatments with acupuncture therapy were given with no major adverse incidents.
These two studies demonstrate how rare side effects from acupuncture are.
References for Acupuncture Side Effect:
- Acupuncture. NIH Consensus Statement Online 1997 Nov 3-5; month, day]; 15(5):1-34.
- Hitoshi Yamashita, Bac, Hiroshi Tsukayama, BA, Yasuo Tanno, MD, PhD. Kazushi Nishijo, PhD, JAMA
- British Medical Journal 2001 Sep 1