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After acupuncture treatment for anxiety I experienced strong and uncontrollable spasms

Q: I had acupuncture yesterday for anxiety. A needle was placed on both sides of my legs which left me  feeling great and relaxed. A couple of hours later I experienced very strong and uncontrollable muscle spasms/twitching in both legs for a good 10-15 mins. They were accompanied by a sensation of heat within my body. Is this normal? Scared me! 

A:  We're sorry to hear that you had a scary experience - we know very well how unusual events after treatment can be very disturbing.

While we wouldn't want to go as far as to say normal, it is not unknown for someone to experience strange sensations after a treatment. Very few of these are to do with physical damage caused by the needles, and where they are it is pretty obvious, like a bruise or a dull ache. Balancing up the energy of the body, which is what we do with traditional acupuncture, often leads to the release of blockages, and the experience of heat is quite a common one. Some treatments actually talk about 'releasing the interior' , and certainly in cases of anxiety there is often a great deal of internal heat associated with the condition in Chinese medicine terms. It is often the case that the tip of the tongue shows itself to be a little redder, a visible manifestation of heat in the system.

The twitching of the legs is a little less common, although by chance we had a question from someone last week with the same problem, and as you might expect, by the time we managed to reply the symptom had vanished. This can fall into the same category of release, but can also just be a 'ripple' effect from an improved energy flow.

What we always say, though, is that effects like these rarely last more than 48 hours at the outside, and most are gone within the day. If they carry on beyond that or recur over the next few days, the best thing to do is first have a chat with the practitioner and if need be drop into their clinic so that they can see what is happening and advise you on what to do. If things really do carry on for a lot longer it is always worth checking with the GP. Sometimes odd things happen which have nothing to do with the treatment, and it always pays to have things checked sooner rather than later.

We are confident, though, that the symptoms will quickly go away, and hopefully show that your system is responsive to treatment and will start to make positive changes very soon.


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