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Stinging pain in my leg after acupuncture

Q:  I had acupuncture for the first time a day ago. I am having a stinging pain in my left leg right behind the knee where one needle was put in. It wasn't put in deep. It feels like a bug has stung me. There is no bruise or swelling or redness. Just this slight stinging pain but it is bothering me.

A:  We are sorry to hear of your experience.

The fact that there is no external sign in the form of a bruise, swelling or redness suggests that the needle has caused a small amount of internal bruising which is impinging a nerve slightly as you move. It is quite possible that by the time you receive this reply that there will be some external sign, but in any event it is equally likely that the symptom has already started to disappear. 

The vast majority of what are called transient adverse events from acupuncture treatment disappear within the first 48 hours after treatment, or in the cases of minor bruises sometimes a little longer. Serious adverse events are rare and usually pretty unmistakeable. As far as anything material happening, like a piece of needle breaking off, you can discount this as a possibility. The manufacture of needles, together with the fact that they are used only once and then discarded, has removed any dangers of breakage. Breakages were always rare but when a needle was  re-used (and we are talking pre-2000) it was the heating of the sterilisation process which could make the metal brittle. Since this is no longer done the risk has all but vanished. 

If the stinging sensation does continue it would be a good idea to speak to your practitioner to alert then to what has happened to and see what advice they can offer based on what they know they have done. You could also consider visiting your GP, but they may tell you that a small internal bruise could take a week or two to break down, and only start to investigate more thoroughly then if the symptom persists or if on the short term it becomes more pronounced.

We hope that by the time you read this the stinging has stopped, and hope too that this has not put you off further treatment.


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