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After I had acupuncture my face, the lower part of my body and stomach felt numb and swollen. Is this normal?

A: We're sorry to hear of your 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, can sometimes cause some strange reactions, although the ones which you are experiencing are a little stranger than most.

We would probably need a little more information about where the needles have been placed and what the treatment strategy was to offer a more detailed view. We can think of a number of syndromes where the treatment might cause this of sensation, but without more information we are in the dark. A great deal depends on whether the face and body feel swollen or actually are swollen. The former is very much like the kind of odd sensations which people can experience, the latter a little more unusual.

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 have come across one or two cases where the argument about what caused a problem has kicked off without the problem getting treated, which is not a great idea. Getting treatment usually establishes what caused what.

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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