I had Acupunture around 2 years ago for chronic migriane. Ever since I get really bad shooting nerve pains where the needles were placed above my eye and down the back of my neck and both my temples. Is this normal?

We are sorry to hear of your continuing problems.

As far as direct physical damage is concerned we would be very surprised if the acupuncture treatment could have generated adverse effects like these which continue for a couple of years. The key factor here is that the temple pains are bilateral. A practitioner might get unlucky and cause irritation of a nerve on rare occasions  but to do so with a range of points over all parts of the head would require someone to be using excessively powerful needle insertions on all occasions. In our experience if someone was doing this the pains would be immediate and unmistakable.

However, one can never rule anything out completely, and the one rare possibility is that the needles have been manipulated vigorously and caused bruising which has formed local scar tissue which in turn is impinging some of the local nerves. This is something which you could discuss with your GP, and possibly also have some bloods taken to see of there is anything in your clotting factors which predisposes you to bleeding with small wounds or cuts.

The other two possibilities are straightforward. One is that the reaction is energetic, and that the treatment has in some way uncovered or created blockages which haven't yet been cleared. This again would be rare. Where treatment generates these kinds of transient adverse effects they tend to last or about 48 hours and then the system returns to the status quo. Two years would be a remarkable length of time, and again the fact that the effect is bilateral tends to make this less likely.

The second possibility is that the discomfort and pain has nothing to do with the treatment but just happened to turn up at the same time in roughly the same place. With over 4 million treatments a year being offered in the UK there are bound to be coincidences, and our main concern when this happens is to ensure that arguments kick off about whether the acupuncture did or did not cause the problem. Our advice is always to see the GP and have the problems checked. This tends to identify the cause and in turn this usually reveals whether the acupuncture treatment has caused the issue.

So, in summary, this is not a normal side effect from treatment, and certainly not this length of time after the treatment. We would recommend that you visit your GP to get inside the system again in order to find out what is going on. Sometimes we recommend that people go back to the practitioner to discuss what they did and for them to assess whether from their perspective there is something they can see which could alleviate the problem, but we have to accept that patients who have suffered adverse effects are reluctant to go back and even more reluctant to have further treatment. However, it remains an option.

 

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