Are there any side effects of acupuncture? For those new to this ancient Chinese treatment, it can seem quite scary - the idea of having needles inserted into us is not one that sits well with most westerners, familiar only with painful injections by doctors.
However, the treatment is not typically painful (people often don't feel the needles being inserted), and side effects of acupuncture are very rare. This is not to say that there are never any incidents - however, compared to the complications that are often associated with western practices such as surgery and powerful drugs, reactions are few and far between.
First of all you want to ensure that your therapist is trained and qualified. They should of course use sterile needles -standard needles these days are sterile, disposable, stainless steel - and be trained in their use.
Although most people feel very little when the needles are inserted, you may feel a sharp sting, or a dull ache around the site of the needle.
It is also common for people to experience certain symptoms after a session - the needles unblock the flow of Qi, allowing the body to begin healing itself, and this can sometimes cause a worsening of the original symptoms as the body goes to work.
Similarly, the unblocking of energy can also affect other bodily functions such as appetite, sleep patterns, bowel or urination patterns, or even emotional state. This is a natural part of the body clearing out the toxins that have accumulated while the Qi was blocked.
Finally it is worth noting that insertion of needles in the abdomen and lumbosacral areas of pregnant women is contraindicated.