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Needling reaction


I have a few questions about needling please:

1. when i go to 'tonify' a point i rotate the needle clockwise but sometimes i notice that after i have done so the needle turns itself anti-clockwise! what is this phenomenon? should i have sedated?

2. sometimes when i needle a point i notice that the skin around the needle goes a little red, why is this? is it heat or toxins being released? or a sign of excess? or an allergic reaction? please advise!

3. sometimes when i needle a point i notice that the skin around the needle goes white and slightly swollen like a small bubble around the point of the needle, why is this? should i disperse it?

if anyone can help or advise i am most grateful, thank you


Tonification and dispersion techniques are more related to your overall diagnosis and the usage of the points than anything you may notice at the needling area which is less significant.

I've answered your questions below:

1. When you are turning clockwise you are wrapping the tissue fibers around the needle, when you let go, then, it is likely to turn back the other direction as the tissue releases. Generally tonification can be done with both needle direction and quick clockwise turns followed by quick counter-clockwise turns and repeated - not just turning the needle one direction repeatedly.

2. The spot you see at the needling point is generally considered a sign of the qi arriving/collecting at the point and in some styles you look for these marks to ascertain whether you have found the correct acupuncture point location (the "live point"). In some people, this mark is simply an allergic reaction to the needle sterilization agent. Over time you will be able to distinguish between these two fairly well.

3. This, I believe, is just a change in the circulation from the needling and a similar tissue grab as in question 1. The skin is basically grabbing onto the needle and the white is the change in circulation that happens from the tension.

Again, most of these are just reactions to needling and needling technique and have little bearing on your overall choice of technique and the effect you are trying to make systemically with your point choices.


Chad, thanks for replying with very clear answers! most helpful, thankyou very much!


1. To tonify rotate following the direction of flow in the channel, rapidly and with intention 45 - 90 degrees, then slowly back. Never go in just one direction as this will caues the mucle fibers to wrap around the tip of the needle.

2. The redness you see is heat, typically it will disperse over the course of time of the treatment.

3. I have seen this reaction as well and it tens to be followed by bruising. I think it is an indication of tissue damage.

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