Side Effects of Acupuncture – They are Uncommon

side effects of acupuncture

People who receive acupuncture often describe treatment as an intense experience. Many come out of a session feeling a sort of body high, a tingly warm sensation that leaves them feeling exhilarated, yet surprising focused and relaxed of any mental stress. For the vast majority, symptoms like better sleep, mental clarity, and less stress are the most common side effects to immediately follow an acupuncture session.  This blog illustrates six uncommon side effects of acupuncture.

The Uncommon Side Effects of Acupuncture

Occasionally, though infrequently, patients sometimes feel other sensations shortly after an acupuncture treatment. These sensations might feel a bit uncomfortable. Though not generally too painful, little aches and pains may make themselves present after a session.  Sometimes it causes patients to worry if these sensations are normal. Though these symptoms might be slightly uncomfortable, they are completely normal and no cause for worry. They are a sign that the acupuncture treatment is working.  It also means QI energy is moving through your body promoting circulation and healing. But to soothe any concerns patients might have after a session, here are six side effects patients might feel after treatment.  They are a completely normal part of the acupuncture healing process.

Itching and Slight Aching

Some people experience itchiness or soreness at or around the sites where the acupuncturist inserted needles. Occasionally, the sensation of itchiness or achiness can manifest in areas of the body where no needling occurred. This is because acupuncture needles trigger points that can move QI energy in other parts of the body. A bigger trigger point release can potentially cause residual soreness for a few days. However, your acupuncturist should warn you about this ahead of time.


Acupuncture treatments can be so relaxing, some patients feel a touch of sleepiness after leaving a session. If you are feeling fatigued after a session, then it is your body’s way of telling you it needs rest. Taking it easy after treatment and going to bed early will cause you to feel rejuvenated the next morning.

Mild Bruising

Mild bruising can occasionally occur at the needling site. Though inconvenient, they will generally appear light-colored and last only for a few days.


Patients might feel post-acupuncture lightheadedness. To prevent feeling lightheaded after a session, it is recommended that you eat something before your appointment.  It is also good that you do not get up too quickly from the acupuncture table after the session is over. Move slowly and gently as you leave. If you are feeling lightheaded, sit down for a few minutes and take a deep breath.

Emotional Release

Sometimes people experience intense emotional release during acupuncture. This is not because the acupuncture is too painful.  It is because the release of certain QI energy might also release other energies related to emotions. Though typically a positive side effect, it can be somewhat surprising for patients.  And especially those who tend to not be emotionally expressive. Feeling emotionally sensitive days after an acupuncture appointment is entirely normal and signifies that treatment is working. In acupuncture, physical and emotional health are interrelated. Therefore, emotional shifts are a sign of physical healing to come.

Muscle Twitches or “Flutterings”

Occasionally, patients will feel muscle twitches or a “fluttery” sensation at or around area where the acupuncturist inserted needles. These involuntary muscular twitching can also sometimes occur in areas far from the needling site. Like feelings of soreness, these sensations are a result of circulating QI energy.

Feeling Worse Before Feeling Better

When you receive an acupuncture treatment, the acupuncturist stimulates and moves QI energy through the channels in the body.  This results in awakening the body’s self-healing capabilities.  When trigger points become activated, side effects are sometimes experienced. Though acupuncture promotes healing and relief, sometimes the patients body feels worse before it feels better. The body may need to expel pathogens in order to heal.  In addition, you may suddenly be more sensitive to a previous ailment that had been lying dormant. This is a sign that energies are moving and is positive to your body’s healing.

This is because acupuncturists consider illnesses to be symptoms of stagnated QI energy. However, side effects can be occasionally uncomfortable.   And especially for some people that are more sensitive to subtle shifts in their body.  The occasional soreness or bruising after an acupuncture appointment is perfectly normal and no need for concern. If you do worry that your side effects are too painful or long-lasting after treatment, contact your acupuncturist.

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