Acupuncture Contraindications

General information

In general , if acupuncture is used properly , there are few side effects. Some side effects and complications are described below. Contraindication means medically when a procedure (here acupuncture) must not be used.

Side effects

The most common side effects are: Siliconized acupuncture needles can cause granulomas by depositing tiny amounts of silicone in the skin. About eight percent of patients treated with acupuncture were affected. According to advocates of acupuncture, a pneumothorax is not a side effect but a treatment error due to lack of knowledge and improper needling.

  • If an unsterilized needle is used on different patients, pathogens such as hepatitis B-, -C- and also the HI virus can be transmitted. – The formation of a bruise at the puncture site. – If silver acupuncture needles are used for long periods of time, scientific studies have shown that this can result in permanent discoloration of the skin (argyrosis).
  • If needles (“permanent needles”) are left in place for long periods of time, regardless of the material, inflammation can occur more frequently. – Occasional drops of blood may escape. – At certain points or combinations of points, the patient may feel dizzy. – Short-term loss of consciousness can occur (very rarely, if the points are not chosen correctly or if the stimulation is too strong). – Numbness
  • Organ injuries, such as a pneumothorax (rare) due to an unintentional injury to the lung.


There are different groups of people for whom some doctors advise against acupuncture treatment. For example , people with low blood pressure or a tendency to collapse should lie down during acupuncture treatment and rest for a while afterwards . Electro-acupuncture should not be used by epileptics because the electric current could cause seizures.

This also applies to people with a pacemaker. Even if you are allergic to certain components of the needles, such as nickel, you should be careful or use gold and silver needles. However, it should be emphasized again at this point that the general risk of treatment with acupuncture is very low.

  • People with skin diseases (eczema, hives, dermatitis, etc.) in the locally affected areas
  • People with certain nervous diseases and sensitivity disorders of the skin (for example polyneuropathies with limited pain sensation in the locally affected areas)
  • People with certain severe mental disorders (for example, schizophrenia, mania, delusion, but possible in depression, anxiety disorder)
  • Epileptics (because of the danger of an epileptic seizure)
  • People with serious infectious diseases (such as tuberculosis)
  • People with certain types of tumours
  • People with a poor general condition (in such cases a doctor should be consulted)
  • Babies and small children
  • In areas of acute inflammation, bone fractures, fresh injuries, acute ischialgia
  • If an ointment, cream, tinting or make-up etc. has been applied to the skin, the acupuncture needle pricked at this point can carry small amounts of the applied product under the skin and cause undesirable reactions.