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I have had chronic idiopathic constipation for nearly 10 years which has meant that my bowel very very rarely spontaneously produces stools. The condition has been "managed" over the years with Various drugs and additionally for the last 4 years rect

We have very good evidence in the form of several published surveys and research studies that acupuncture treatment is not only safe but also that the majority of side effects are transient, minor and tend to disappear within 48 hours. However, that does not mean that there are not occasionally more serious side effects.

Where the majority of serious side effects occur, and these remain very rare, it is most often because of a direct effect of the needling in the form of a pneumothorax or nerve damage. We do hear of the occasional case of both, and the BAcC has had to deal two or three such cases in the last decade. Injuries such as you have experienced are much more rare, where the damage arises not from the needling itself but from a physical reaction to the needling, like fainting from needling and then getting bruises from falling.We suspect that your physiotherapist has called it correctly insofar as the reaction to the needle insertion has caused the twisting of the lower back and induced sciatica. Strong reactions to needling are possible, and some people do have electric shock sensations as a genuine consequence of mobilising the energy. This is generally recognisable because it does not fall along nerve pathways as understood in conventional medicine. If the problem has been induced by a kind of physical twist injury it is almost certain that it will resolve quite quickly. Further treatment would help, but we can quite easily imagine that this is not likely to be an option for you.As far as the second occasion is concerned, we suspect that the practitioner may have under-estimated your sensitivity to treatment and used points which do tend to have a higher risk of generating physically painful reactions,. Clearly it would not be fair for us to comment on someone's work without knowing a great deal more  of the case history, and we have all experienced cases where someone has had unexpected and unpleasant reactions to points which we have used thousands of times. The skill of the practitioner lies in then adjusting the treatment to a pitch which the patient can bear by reducing the number of needles, reducing the depth of insertion and the amount of needle manipulation.Where people do have an unpleasant experience of treatment it can induce a kind of 'shock' which may well undo some of the good work already done and cause the overall pattern to become a little disturbed again, bringing back symptoms which had been under control. Our experience, however, is that these episodes rarely result in a permanent loss of progress, and the system usually restores to the point which it had reached before.We are very sorry to hear of your experience, and equally sorry to hear that acupuncture treatment is unlikely to be an option for you in future.  There are many variations within the 2500 year tradition which use minimally invasive techniques, but we can understand how this would probably not be reassurance enough. We do hope that you manage to regain the place which you had reached before this episode occurred, and that you manage to continue to progress from there.

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