Q: I had my third session today and when I got there my ankles were very swollen with the heat. I had 20 needles inserted from my skull to my ankles. When the acupuncturist came back he commented that my ankles were leaking which isn't unusual. However 9 hours later my leg is still leaking. Is this usual and what should I do?
A: We wouldn't go so far as to say it is usual but it is possible. We usually choose not to needle tissue that is swollen and oedematous but it is fair to say that in China this is often a routine treatment and often very successful in moving the fluids away from the swollen limb. Each practitioner makes a professional judgement based on their findings in each individual case, and your practitioner has clearly judged that this is a safe and sensible treatment for you.
The major risk is that a point or point can become infected. The fact that you say that fluid leakage is not unusual and that it has happened before suggest that there is nothing to worry about here, and also suggests that this has been looked at before. However, if you start to get redness and/or pain at the sites where the needle was applied, you would be well advised to get to an emergency doctor's round or call 111 for advice immediately. Otherwise you should keep the area clean and perhaps arrange a visit to your GP to discuss this.
Fluid leaking for this length of time after a needle insertion is a little unusual and is probably more to do with the short term effects of the hot weather than anything else. However, your GP may decide that the fact that this can happen is not entirely good for you, and may prescribe some diuretic tablets to reduce the swelling. Acupuncture treatment may also over time help to reduce swelling in the lower limb, but the fact that heat raises the chances of it happening suggests that medication may be a good short term measure.