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Nerve Damage after acupuncture treatment?


I actually think that I got peripheral neuropathy from an acupuncture treatment I got 10 days ago.
I suffer from iliotibial band syndrome (both hips) plus low back pain.
I went to a school of acupuncture to get relief from these conditions but after the first treatment I started feeling burning pain in both my legs from my feet to my low back, also needles and pins in my feet, and strange cramps in different parts of my legs. The burning pain gets really bad at night. Further the left side is more painful than the right side and I’m also getting a little tick under my left eyebrow. BTW I did not have any of these symptoms before the treatment.
The treatment consisted of deep needling (thicker needles) on my upper and lower back, buttocks legs and feet. All the points where super painful they had to take out one of the needles on my lower back and also one needle on my left foot during treatment was sending waves of pain. I told the student about the waves of pain and he said that it was OK.

I'm a woman, 40 years old and I'm feeling so anxious. I think if this health issue doesn't go away I will never try acupuncture again. I'm seeing the students plus teacher next Tuesday.
It is possible to get nerve damage after a treatment? If so, is it reversible? How long until the symptoms go away? What type of doctor should I see to get a diagnosis? Is there any treatment (safer than the one I got) that could help?
I would appreciate so much any feedback/suggestion.
I'll provide the acupuncture points next week since I was face down and couldn't see anything.

Trembling and numb pain all over body after acupuncture

The burning pain at night means you have blood stagnation at legs now, also may inflammation happened. You can put some pain killer patches(for example: salonpus small size) on the pain locations to relieve pain and clear the inflammation. You also can do some tuina treatment to active your blood circle. You sensitive to needles, you can stop acupuncture treatment.


Thank you Feng Mei for your message! The burning pain does feel awful the interesting thing is that I tried acupuncture in the past (like 6 months ago) with an experienced acupuncturist and I never had the side effects like the ones I got with this new treatment (12 days ago)

I&#39ll try the patch, thank you again.


This question has unfortunately come up many times on our website... for a related comment I&#39ve made with links to many others I&#39ve made at the end, read this.

Generally, I&#39m sorry that you had this experience with acupuncture. To put your mind at ease, it is not impossible but generally -extremely, extremely- unlikely that there is any permanent damage to your nerves. Although 10 days is a long time to experience any discomfort from acupuncture. Pain, fear, and improper technique can go a long ways towards wreaking havoc and there is no better place to experience this than in some school clinics unfortunately.

As far as what to do, assuming there was nerve damage, there is next to nothing that can be done within the realm of western medicine for this besides pain pills and a wait and see approach and acupuncture -is- used for all types of pain and neuropathy - so a good acupuncturist should be all you need. I don&#39t know what school you went to, but I&#39m not sure I would go back to the same student at the least...

If you are sensitive to needles, you can try someone who practices Japanese acupuncture which tends to be lighter approaches with smaller guage needles, but a good practitioner should make any size needle with any technique seem pain free... What you have, generally speaking, (before this treatment) should have been near trivial to treat, so I&#39m concerned about the student and the supervisor&#39s skill level... but not knowing the details there isn&#39t much I can say besides sorry this happened, whatever damage that may have been done is generally minimal and should clear in 3-4 weeks max, and find another practitioner to treat you and you should be fine. The pain patches will most likely do nothing for you if the nerves were heavily irritated, but they are generally harmless to try.


Thank you Chad for your thorough and validating response. I have hope now that these symptoms will subside at some point. I will not do acupuncture with these people again that&#39s for sure, the pain and the stress I&#39m going through.. it is not worth it. The lesson for me: I need to be extemely careful with the practitioners I pick, no acupuncture schools for me ever!

Thank you again for the informative posts.


The student practitioners at schools can be quite good and a good value, however, a lot factors into that equation. The confidence overall of the practitioner will go a long ways towards how the needles feel. If they are hesistant to do deep needling techniques, it will feel bad to the patient. If the patient, regardless of whether it is caused by the technique or not, responds with pain generally the practitioner will tense up and may make things worse. Overall, though, the students and the clinics generally can be a great value. For now, however, based on your experience I wouldn&#39t go back for this particular instance and let someone else clear it up. I would, if you feel so inclined, write them a letter describing your experience and/or speak with them just so they know what has happened to avoid this happening in the future.

There is a problem that I see in some students and practitioners alike (even "advanced" ones) that are so stuck on certain concepts such as deep needling and the infamous "de qi" sensation (or the pain that you feel from bad technique being called "good" or "necessary"). They fool themselves, and often their patients as well, that these sensations are a part of the healing process and that it is a necessary part of treatment... It&#39s rubbish overall as far as I&#39m concerned (my admitted bias) and the practitioners need not hide bad technique behind these mislead concepts. Students may not yet know better, or they may and are told to do certain techniques that are unnecessary and even counter-productive by their clinic supervisors - either way it&#39s a trend that will hopefully die out over time.

Bad reaction from accupuncture treatment?

The only thing one has to offer is pain killers? How about giving the lady acupuncture points that address things by means of e.g acupressure? Not to plainly say: hey, take a few ...(whatever) and then go again to a good acupuncturist. What, you think she would have gone to this dangerous ignoramus if she knew what the result would be? I once had the same experience after Japanese acupuncture by a well known so-called expert. Well, arrogance was all she had on offer. Of course, when I called her it was not her fault.

Deep needling is nonsensical if I ever heard it. Hitting a mosquito with a canon and hoping for the best. But pain is a sure thing they can deliver. Bad techniques normally follow the people who have bad minds. There should be a thorough exam in order to admit people before teaching them. At least they should have compassion and respect for life in general. Then these kind of occurrences will be gone sooner than later.



I just wanted to let you know that it took my body 8 whole months to recover from the accupunture treatment I got last year. It was recommended to me to wait until the symptoms subside. It took such a long time. As you could imagine I will never go near a School of Acupuncture again!

Thank you for your support.

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