1 Cockburn Halls, George St, Ormiston

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Contra-Indications for Acupuncture

Experts consider Acupuncture a safe medical treatment but are there contra-indications for acupuncture?

Many physicians and practitioners believe that acupuncture is a beneficial treatment as an adjunct to other medical treatments, and/or as an alternative to medical treatments. 

An acupuncture treatment program will typically include anywhere from 3 to 10 sessions, each lasting up to approximately one hour. 

Recommended Contra-Indications for Acupuncture

As with any medical treatment, there are certain recommended contra-indications for acupuncture treatments, including:

  • Where no consent has been obtained
  • Drug or alcohol intoxication
  • Use of a demand pacemaker (here, electro-acupuncture is usually contra-indicated)
  • Seizure disorders
  • Bleeding disorder such as haemophilia or use of blood thinners
  • Infections skin disorder or disease
  • If pregnant, needling in the abdominal area or lumbo-sacral region should be avoided. It is also advisable to avoid any acupuncture that might stimulate the early delivery of the fetus or even lead to abortion. Not all these points are located on the abdominal area or lumbo-sacral region.
  • Directly over tumours or in areas that are ulcerated

Where acupuncture should not usually be administered

Most practitioners agree that acupuncture should not usually be administered in the following situations:

  • malignancy, as there might be a threat of the spread of neoplastic cells;
  • severe neutropenia (low white blood-cell count) secondary to the risk of infection;
  • medical and surgical emergencies;
  • for patients with uncontrolled movements;
  • where patients are confused or disoriented;
  • needling an oedematous limb at risk of lymphoedema; also in the ipsilateral arm of a patient after axillary dissection – risk of swelling or lymphoedema;
  • in areas of spinal instability where, as a result of acupuncture, relaxation of surrounding muscles could potentially give rise to spinal cord compression;
  • needling scars, keloid, recent incisional wounds or skin with sensory deficit;
  • The needling of intra-capsular points if the patient is on anticoagulant therapy or is a haemophiliac;
  • Metal allergy

Where Cautious Treatment is Advisable

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Cautious treatment is advised in conditions such as:

  • Immuno-suppression
  • Epilepsy
  • Unclear diagnosis
  • Abnormal physical structure
  • Where, after acupuncture, patients must drive or operate machinery
  • Where patients have strong reactions to acupuncture
  • If patients are unwilling or afraid
  • Skin infections or disorders at the site of needling

After-Effects of Acupuncture

If the above lists suggest when acupuncture might not be appropriate, what about –

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