Kimberly Halsey Acupuncture Physician
Acupuncture Safety compared to other treatments
Commenting on the relative safety of acupuncture compared to other treatments, the NIH consensus panel stated that "adverse side effects of acupuncture are extremely low and often lower than conventional treatments." They also stated:"the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same condition. For example, musculoskeletal conditions, such as fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, and tennis elbow... are conditions for which acupuncture may be beneficial. These painful conditions are often treated with, among other things, anti-inflammatory medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.) or with steroid injections. Both medical interventions have a potential for deleterious side effects but are still widely used and are considered acceptable treatments."
In a Japanese survey of 55,291 acupuncture treatments given over five years by 73 acupuncturists, 99.8% of them were performed with no significant minor adverse effects and zero major adverse incidents (Hitoshi Yamashita, Bac, Hiroshi Tsukayama, BA, Yasuo Tanno, MD, PhD. Kazushi Nishijo, PhD, JAMA). Two combined studies in the UK of 66,229 acupuncture treatments yielded only 134 minor adverse events. (British Medical Journal 2001 Sep 1). The total of 121,520 treatments with acupuncture therapy were given with no major adverse incidents (for comparison, a single such event would have indicated a 0.0008% incidence).
This is in comparison to 2,216,000 serious adverse drug reactions that occurred in hospitals 1994. (Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN., JAMA. 1998 Apr 15;279(15):1200-5.) So to compare indirectly, Acupuncture has a 0.2% chance of causing a minor adverse effect compared to prescription medications having a 6.7% chance of causing a serious adverse event in a hospital setting.