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Still feeling pain and numbness after having acupuncture more than 30 years ago

Q:  Had acupuncture more than 30 years ago and STILL have pain and some numbness on the site of a wayward needle. However, I now have chronic back, hip pain with the neck and referred pain to the testicles thrown in from time to time.

A:  Without knowing exactly where the needle was placed we find ourselves a little restricted in what we can say.

 Clearly, the one possibility which you need to rule out is that there is a piece of needle still inside your body. In modern times this would be almost unheard of. The use of disposable needles has eliminated the one main cause of pieces of needle snapping off, and that was the use of autoclaves to sterilise and re-use needles. The constant heating and cooling tended to make the steel in the needles a little more brittle, and there was a risk that a small fragment could break off. Possible as this was we have no records of any such occurrence in the BAcC (formed in 1995) or in the five precursor bodies. We did hear, however, over twenty years ago about a legal case involving a claim that a piece of needle tip had broken off and 'travelled', but we suspect that the matter was settled out of court because there is no trace of it that we can find from our searches.

 The other possibility is that the needle caused physical damage. It is hard to imagine what this might be to have endured for 30 years and to be causing secondary symptoms. However, we think that the best, and perhaps only, thing that you can do is to go to your GP and ask for an X-ray of the area to determine whether there is any physical object in place, and then to discuss with him or her whether the other symptoms to which you refer could be a consequence of physical damage in the area. This might involve a referral for an MRI if there is a chance that the damage is in deeper tissues.

 It may well be the case that you have already done what we suggest; thirty years is a long time, and if you have been experiencing discomfort for this length of time it is highly likely that you have. However, the spread of symptoms needs to be investigated anyway, whatever the root cause. 

 We are sorry not to be able to offer more help or advice than this, but with the information you have sent us this is the best that we can suggest.  

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