Can Acupuncture Cause Nerve Damage? Debunking Myths

by | Mar 14, 2024 | Acupuncture

Like many folks, the thought of acupuncture might have you fretting over whether or not acupuncture can cause potential nerve damage. We get it; picturing those needles can send anyone’s imagination into overdrive. But here’s the real scoop: acupuncture uses incredibly thin needles that aim to kickstart your body’s healing process without coming close to harming your nerves.

In this article, we’re going to debunk some myths and shed a warm, enlightening glow on just how safe acupuncture truly is. Are you ready to dive in with us?.

Key Takeaways

  • Acupuncture uses extremely thin needles, way thinner than those for shots, making the procedure almost pain-free. The risk of severe side effects is very low.
  • Feeling sore after acupuncture is normal and shows your body responding to treatment. This does not mean you have nerve damage or injury.
  • Licensed acupuncturists follow strict hygiene and safety standards to minimize risks like infections or serious injuries during acupuncture sessions.
  • Most common side effects are minor, such as bruising or feeling dizzy. Communicating with your acupuncturist can help manage any discomfort.
  • Choosing a licensed professional and discussing your health history before starting treatments ensures a safer experience with acupuncture.

Understanding Acupuncture: A Brief Overview

Acupuncture on arm for nerve damage

Acupuncture might seem like a step into the mystical realm of Traditional Chinese Medicine for those of us used to the straightforward approach of Western healthcare. It’s an ancient technique, refined over millennia, that seeks to rebalance and ease pain by inserting slender needles at precise points on the body.

This isn’t just throwing darts at a map; these points are deliberately selected with the belief they’re key in directing the flow of our body’s energy or “Qi”, aiming not just for relief from discomfort but also better sleep, less anxiety, and even a brighter mood among other benefits.

So let’s tackle a common misconception head-on: this experience doesn’t equate to stepping on a Lego in your bare feet. The needles in acupuncture are nothing like what you see at your doctor’s office for shots – they’re way thinner, almost whisper-thin.

Most folks feel little more than brief twinges during insertion – kind of like tiny pinpricks that vanish faster than your favorite ice cream left out on a summer day. Considering serious side effects are exceedingly uncommon (about as rare as finding 1.3 mishaps per 1000 sessions), it makes sense to push past any hesitations and give this time-tested method space in today’s holistic health toolkit – whether you’re navigating chronic pain or seeking serenity without resorting immediately to pharmaceuticals.

In essence, opening up to acupuncture can be like unlocking a door within ourselves we didn’t know was there – discovering paths to healing that blend tradition with our modern pursuit of wellness.

It invites us into an experiential dialogue with our bodies, encouraging whispers of well-being that resonate deeply beneath our skins and through the core of our being.

Debunking Common Myths about Acupuncture

Yin Yang Stones On Leaf

Let’s debunk some common myths about acupuncture. Acupuncture is not as painful as many believe it to be. Sensation absence during acupuncture doesn’t mean it’s ineffective, and post-treatment soreness isn’t necessarily a sign of injury.

Also, acupuncture needles are not as large as syringe needles.

Myth #1: Acupuncture is extremely painful

Many people think acupuncture feels like getting shots at the doctor’s office, but that’s not true. Acupuncture needles are as thin as a strand of hair. Imagine something so fine you barely feel it going in.

Yes, there might be a slight prick or an ache for a moment, but those feelings fade fast. Then comes a wave of relaxation and warmth over you.

Our bodies sometimes talk back with mild soreness after treatment, which is totally normal and does not mean acupuncture caused an injury or nerve damage. It means your body is kicking into healing mode, circulating more blood to where it’s needed most.

Now let’s tackle the next myth about sensation and effectiveness in acupuncture therapy.

Myth #2: Absence of sensation means ineffective acupuncture

Feeling nothing during acupuncture doesn’t mean it’s not working. Our bodies react differently, and sometimes the magic happens quietly. A light touch can unleash relaxation and pain relief without any dramatic sensations.

Needles are as thin as hair; they slide in gently, focusing on acupuncture points to do their work silently. It’s all about hitting the right spots to release muscle tension and boost well-being.

People often look for a sign that treatment is effective, expecting tingling or a zap. But real success comes through subtle changes: muscles easing up and a mind drifting into calmness.

These quiet shifts signal your body responding, embracing the natural healing process of East Asian medicine without making a fuss. The absence of sensation? That just means your acupuncturist nailed the precise point needed for your recovery.

Myth #3: Post-treatment soreness indicates injury

Many folks think soreness after acupuncture means something went wrong. Not true! This discomfort is actually a good sign. It shows your body’s circulation is kicking into high gear, helping you heal.

So, if you’re feeling a bit tender post-session, don’t fret! It’s all part of the process toward better health.

This common misunderstanding might scare some away from trying acupuncture. But we’re here to clear things up and shed light on the truths behind other myths too. Let’s dive into debunking the next big myth: that acupuncture needles are as large as those used for injections.

Myth #4: Acupuncture needles are as large as syringe needles

Acupuncture needles are not as large as syringe needles but extremely thin, about the width of a human hair. This allows for virtually pain-free insertion and reduces the risk of tissue and nerve damage.

It’s important to remember that acupuncture needles are only inserted superficially, just below the skin’s surface, and are never reused between patients. Typically, 6-12 thin acupuncture needles are used during a treatment session.

These facts debunk the myth surrounding the size of acupuncture needles and highlight their minimal invasiveness.

Can Acupuncture Cause Nerve Damage?

Nerve Damage Test

Acupuncture carries minimal risk of nerve damage due to the thinness of needles and the expertise of acupuncturists. Safety precautions and proper training also minimize potential side effects, making acupuncture a generally safe treatment option.

Analyzing the risks and safety of acupuncture

Acupuncture is generally safe, with minimal risks and side effects reported. Minor adverse events like bruising or soreness may occur but are usually temporary. Acupuncture needles are very thin and cause little to no discomfort when inserted under the skin.

It’s important for acupuncturists to follow proper hygiene practices in order to prevent infection. Rarely, more serious issues such as pneumothorax (punctured lung) can occur, especially if the treatment is not administered by a properly trained practitioner.

However, such cases are extremely rare; a well-qualified acupuncturist prioritizes patient safety and ensures a thorough understanding of medical history before commencing the treatment.

Understanding potential side effects of acupuncture

Acupuncture, when performed by a trained professional, is generally safe. The most common potential side effects include soreness or bruising at the needle insertion site, dizziness, fainting, and minor bleeding.

It’s important to communicate any unusual sensations during treatment to your practitioner for immediate attention.

Rare but serious side effects may include nerve damage and organ injury if acupuncture is not administered properly. However, with a licensed practitioner who follows strict hygiene and technique standards, these risks are significantly minimized.

Safety Precautions during Acupuncture Treatment

Getting acupuncture for nerve damage on foot
  1. Choose a licensed acupuncturist who has completed the necessary training and certification.
  2. Discuss your complete health history, including any medications or conditions, to ensure safe treatment.
  3. Verify that the acupuncturist practices clean needle technique to prevent infections or other complications.
  4. If you experience discomfort during treatment, don’t hesitate to communicate with your acupuncturist.
  5. After acupuncture, take time to rest and drink plenty of water to support your body’s recovery.


In closing, debunking myths about acupuncture dispels fears and encourages people to explore this natural healing method. Understanding the safety precautions during acupuncture treatment is crucial for informed decision-making.

Acupuncture’s potential to cause nerve damage is a misconception that needs clarification for those considering this therapy. Exploring the risks and benefits of acupuncture fosters informed conversations about its role in promoting overall wellness without fear or uncertainty.

With accurate information, individuals can make confident choices regarding their health and well-being when it comes to acupuncture.

Don’t wait to begin your journey toward better health today! Choosing us means we will help you find the healthy results you want. Book your first appointment with us right now by phone at (949) 836-2857 or online at

Have a question? Connect with us here:


1. Can poking around with acupuncture needles hurt my nerves?

Poking the wrong spot might sound like a recipe for trouble, but professional acupuncturists know their way around your body’s map. They aim for acupoints, not nerve damage.

2. I heard someone say acupuncture can mess with my brain or heart because of my pacemaker, is that true?

Hold your horses! Acupuncture focuses on easing pain and improving mental clarity without going near your ticker or noggin in a harmful way. Always chat with your health pro first if you’ve got gadgets like a pacemaker.

3. What if I’m taking blood thinners? Should I steer clear of acupuncture to avoid bleeding or bruises?

Acupuncture and blood thinners are like oil and water; they don’t mix well without caution. Your acupuncturist should know about any anticoagulant medicine you’re on so they can adjust their technique.

4. Is it possible to get addicted to getting needled by an acupuncturist?

You won’t crave acupuncture sessions like chocolate chip cookies. It’s all about finding balance and relief from things like headaches or chronic fatigue, not creating dependency.

5. My friend told me her insurance covered her acupuncture session for migraine relief; will mine do the same?

Insurance playing nice with alternative therapies? Sometimes yes! More insurers are recognizing treatments like acupuncture for its benefits against migraines and more, but check your plan first.

6. Does science back up using needles to fix what ails me, or is it just old wives’ tales?

Science gives a thumbs-up here! Research shows that careful needlework by trained professionals can improve sleep quality, ease pain, and boost overall health minus the scary side effects of some meds.



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