The risks of acupuncture are low if you have a competent, certified acupuncture practitioner. Possible side effects and complications include:

  • Soreness. After acupuncture, you might have soreness, minor bleeding or bruising at the needle sites.
  • Organ injury. If the needles are pushed in too deeply, they could puncture an internal organ — particularly a lung. This is an extremely rare complication in the hands of an experienced practitioner.
  • Infections. Licensed acupuncturists are required to use sterile, disposable needles. A reused needle could expose you to diseases, such as hepatitis.

Not everyone is a good candidate for acupuncture or for particular types of acupuncture. Conditions that may increase your risks of complications include:

  • Bleeding disorders. Your chances of bleeding or bruising from the needles increase if you have a bleeding disorder or if you're taking blood thinners , such as warfarin (Coumadin), so let your acupuncturist know.
  • Having a pacemaker. Acupuncture that involves applying mild electrical pulses to the needles can interfere with a pacemaker's operation.
  • Being pregnant. Some types of acupuncture are thought to stimulate labor, which could result in a premature delivery.
Dec. 18, 2014