Acupuncture adverse effects are more than occasional case reports: results from questionnaires among 1135 randomly selected doctors, and 197 acupuncturists
Abstract: The aim of the present paper is to describe what kind of adverse effects of acupuncture Norwegian doctors and acupuncturists have encountered, and to indicate how often these adverse effects occur. The questionnaire was sent to an unweighted, stratified, random sample of 1466 working Norwegian doctors under the age of 71. A similar questionnaire was sent to all 311 acupuncturists found in the Yellow Pages of the Telephone directory. A total of 1135 (77/o) and 197 acupuncturists (68%) responded. The myth of acupuncture as a therapy without adverse effects has not been substantiated. Pneumothorax, the most common serious adverse effect of acupuncture was reported in 33 patients. Local skin infections (n = 66), perichondritis on the auricle (n = 6), arthritis and osteomyelitis (n = 4), are reported from doctors, but not from the acupuncturists. Fainting during treatment is relatively common among acupuncturists (n = 140), while the doctors report more cases of psychiatric problems (n = 20) and increased pain after acupuncture treatment (n = 56). The study indicates that the acupuncture adverse effects rate is at least 0.21 per year of practice as an acupuncturist. This paper presents a broad panorama of adverse effects of acupuncture. The study should imply more focus on who should practise acupuncture, and when to use the method. Despite the reported adverse effects, acupuncture can still be presented as a relatively safe therapeutic measure.