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Neuropathy and nerve sensitivity from acupuncture?



I decided to come on this forum to see if I can have any feedback or answers as to why I am feeling this way. Not too long ago I decided to see an acupuncturist locally who was recommended by a friend and who practices Dr. Tan's balance method. I did a total of 10 treatments (1x per week). The first 2 treatments were fine and I didnt feel anything negative. On the third treatment, the acupuncturist mentioned she was going to go "deep" that day. I said ok as I trusted her plan. A few days after that treatment I became very tired and experienced a feeling of heaviness in both my legs. I was alarmed and told her and she said that she sees that as a positive Qi moving. To make a long story short after that 3rd treatment things have never been the same. I went back for 7 more treatments because I was told that she considered my symptoms worsening as normal and sometimes it just needs to get worse to get better.

During those 7 treatments I was feeling worse and worse. I was emotionally unstable and having huge crying meltdowns, headache, fatigue, excessive sweating of the hands and feet and diarrhea. But the thing that alarmed me the most was these weird sensations in both my legs and feet. I would describe them as symptoms of neuropathy. Tingling, burning, feelings of things crawling, pulling, chills, just uncomfortable and sometimes painful feelings. I remember after one session she had put a needle in my left wrist and soon after i started feeling these neuropathy feelings in my left arm and hand. I also should mention that I had experienced limb weakness in both legs and left arm.

I was not at all expecting all of this to happen. By the 10th treatment I made the decision to stop the acupuncture. It has now been 5-6 weeks that I have stopped. Although I do not have any more limb weakness I am still experiencing neuropathy in both legs and feet. I have to say the last couple of weeks it almost subsided and I was starting to feel better. Unfortunately the last few days it seems to have come back and its been hard for me to sleep. These feelings in my legs are making me so anxious and I am at a loss. I am a generally healthy 32 year old female. I do yoga and eat a paleo diet.

I know there have been other questions similar to mine and so I know I am not the only one. Furthermore, acupuncture can be very powerful and should not be treated lightly. Do you think the needles were too deep? Left in too long (1h1/2), overstimualted my central nervous system, too powerful for me? Am I too sensitive? Also will this ever subside permanently? I read another forum where it took a lady 8 months to recover and it was just 1 treatment. I have done 10 so I am very worried.

Thank you.


I forgot to mention that during my acupuncture treatments I was feeling weird sensations throughout my legs as well as my foot moving or rather jerking up on its own. I also mentioned this to my acupuncturist and she told me it was a good sign.


My response to these types of questions is often quite similar - in general I really dislike hearing these types of stories. This whole idea of needling deeper and/or confusing muscle/nerve pain with the infamous de qi (or coming/moving of "qi") sensation is very problematic. There are some practitioners who far too strongly feel that this type of sensation (which can be pain/damage) is crucial to the treatment and it&#39s just not true.

My answer then generally is the same (find another acupuncturist), but I&#39ll break yours out a little bit for you in direct response to your questions:

Furthermore, acupuncture can be very powerful and should not be treated lightly. Do you think the needles were too deep?

Not necessarily, but one or a few may have been too deep and/or stimulated too strongly.

Left in too long (1h1/2), overstimualted my central nervous system, too powerful for me?

I think that is just wrong, I can think of no clinical reason in any case to ever leave needles in that long. It didn&#39t necessarily overstimulate you - because that implies that an inserted needle is always active and a non-inserted needle is not active - which is not true. But if they were too deep and you were uncomfortable and/or the practitioner would come in and continue to stimulate/manipulate the needles then they could have been causing more damage.

Am I too sensitive? Also will this ever subside permanently?

No you are not too sensitive. A good practitioner can -always- adjust the treatment to what is appropriate to the patient. A mediocre practitioner more often than not does essentially the same thing to each patient which is where problems like this come from. As for permanence, no the sensations are extremely unlikely to be permanent, but they may require proper treatment to resolve quicker - again from a different practitioner. Ideally your new practitioner, should you choose to go that route, would also practice tuina (Chinese Medical Massage) and not do strong needle manipulations.


Hi Chad,

Thank you so much for responding. I really appreciate your feedback and you have given me some clarity. I tried expressing all this to the acupuncturist but felt she wasnt taking my feelings seriously and was quite dismissive towards me. In any case I want to say that I believe so much the benefits of acupuncture and how it can help on so many different levels if done by a good practitioner as you had mentioned. I am not dismissing acupuncture, just want people to go to someone who knows exactly what they are doing. I hope my patience will persevere and that all this subsides sooner rather than later. Its almost as though my whole CNS is pulsating and inflammed. I will write back with an update when I am feeling better so that anybody else reading this and perhaps going through something similar can have a better idea.

Thanks again.


I can only echo Chad&#39s advice to find another acupuncturist. Please make sure he/she has done sufficient training, meaning a minimum of three years at a recognised educational facility. In the US they will have the letters LAc after their name, LicAc in the UK.

It&#39s all very well saying the woman you went to did the Dr Tan training but, if she is not a fully trained acupuncturist to begin with, it&#39s no good - in fact it certainly means she has no real understanding of the role acupuncture plays within the entire field of Chinese Medicine. This is probably why you didn&#39t feel heard, and had these problems, a proper acupuncturist would never have treated you like that.

It&#39s good this experience has not put you off having more treatment, I&#39m sure you will feel much better in the right hands!


I&#39m an Lmt , and I practice acupressure . It sounds like a nerve was pressed on that triggered these responses . Maybe there was underlying condition that was triggered by the acupuncturist touching that spot. Because it has been such a long time and you still. Have not recovered from the tingling and numbing of the legs I would def see a dr to make sure no underlying problem. Peace and love to you, I hope you feel better soon!


To all those people who have gone through or are going through peripheral nerve injury as a result of acupuncture... It can happen even though most acupuncturists dont want to admit it. It CAN happen and is a serious side effect. I am still suffering 3 months later as a result. Have started IV B complex and alpha lipoic acid to help heal my nerves faster. People didnt believe me that it was from acupuncture but it is and I DO NOT have an underlying issue. I am and was a healthy 32 year old young mom and went to an acupuncturist who obviously went too deep and didnt know that they were doing. This is real and a serious side effect that ALL acupuncturists should be wary of and warn their patients of.

"When we work on points along meridians that run just over nerve structures, we must familiarize ourselves with these structures and always bear in mind the locations and depths of nearby nerves when preparing to insert needles. Excessive depth of needling is the major cause of peripheral nerve damage, so if you are absolutely sure of the depth of the nerve trunk or branch, check before you treat. Its better to place a needle slightly too shallow than too deep"


All properly trained acupuncturists are aware of the harm that can be done by poor needle technique. That&#39s why we stress time and again that only fully trained and properly qualified practitioners should be doing it.

Kiwi1990, I am sorry to hear this happened to you, it is indeed very uncomfortable, and I hope you recover soon. Do you know the qualifications of the person who did your treatment? If they are properly trained and licensed, they will have insurance and you can make a claim against them. Ask them if they have taken a basic acupuncture course that required a minimum of 2000 (two thousand) hours training, which is what the WHO recommend is needed to be able to practice acupuncture at even the most rudimentary level. If they have not done sufficient training, then please do not let this episode put you off futher treatment - just find someone who knows what they are doing!

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