Bruising From Acupuncture

Is Bruising From Acupuncture Normal?

Acupuncture comes under the umbrella of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The traditional Chinese medicine believes that the energy of life (Qi or Chi) flows through meridians in the body. The balance of yin and yang is responsible for maintaining health. This method of treatment is meant to remove obstructions in the flow of energy.

What is Acupuncture?

  • Acupuncture has been used since thousands of years for managing a wide range of disease conditions. A practitioner of acupuncture may use needles of steel or gold.
  • There are more than 1000 acu-points described along the meridians of the body.
  • This treatment method is intended to stimulate acu-points in the body with the insertion of metallic needles into these points.
  • Some may also use cupping, direct pressure using fingers or thumbs or heat and electromagnetic impulses to stimulate these acupuncture points.

The traditional Chinese medicine believes in a more holistic approach towards diseases. Modern medicine, on the other hand, believes that when needles are inserted at these acu-points, certain neurotransmitters are stimulated. Also, nerve growth factor is released due to which pain ceases and symptoms reduce. The release of these factors has also known to regulate endocrine function.

Abdominal acupuncture is being widely used and appreciated. Not only for its health benefits. But also for other purposes like:

  • Skin toning and firming
  • Strengthening of abdominal muscles
  • Reducing cellulite
  • Fat loss around the waist
  • Regulation of hormones and menstruation in women.

Abdominal acupuncture, as compared to the other sites, tends to be slightly more painful. However, no pain especially of the abdomen after getting a needle acupuncture therapy should be ignored. Incidences of acupuncture needles hurting nerves or even penetrating the stomach cavity have been reported.

What is Cupping?

Cupping Process Picture

  • Cupping is a method of creating suction over an affected area. Herbs or alcohol are burnt in a cup and the cup is then inverted over the skin. Upon cooling, a vacuum is created inside the cup which causes the skin to rise and blood vessels beneath to expand.
  • Some therapists use both acupuncture needles and cupping together.
  • The purpose of this therapy is to regulate the flow of blood and lymph in the affected area. Cupping is considered as a part of deep tissue massage therapy.

It is therefore obvious, that insertion of acupuncture needles or cupping may leave bruise marks on the skin. Although acupuncture and cupping have a positive role in managing a lot of illnesses, bruising post-treatment is one of the major factors due to which people refrain from going back to the same treatment.

Facial Cupping – How Does It Work?

Facial cupping is being used these days as an alternative to expensive creams, lotions and skin treatments. Facial cupping kits are available extensively on online retail sites. Facial cupping can be done either at a single site or in a gliding method.

The purpose of facial cupping is for managing acne, eczema, skin pigmentation and wrinkling. It is used even for sinus and ear infections, facial paralysis and migraine. Unlike the regular cupping, facial cupping does not leave any bruises. Instead, it provides a glow due to decongestion and regulated flow of blood.

Is bruising From Acupuncture Normal?

Your therapist will normally tell you beforehand what the needles or cupping feel like. There may be slight pain or discomfort when the needles are inserted. The needles are kept inserted for about 20 minutes. Bruising cannot be termed ‘normal’. But it is also something not alarming. Nevertheless, one should keep a close look as to how long it may take to heal.

What causes Bruising From Acupuncture?

  • Bruising occurs when the therapist accidentally hits a tiny blood vessel. The blood stops immediately on applying pressure.
  • Now, as a body’s natural response, when there is a breach in the integrity of the skin, all our natural defences of the body consider these needle-pricked areas as injuries.
  • The normal, physiological process of inflammation begins in order to re-establish the skin integrity in order to protect it from infections.
  • Whereas, in cupping, it is believed that bruise marks occur when the stagnation is released. The colors of bruises vary from person to person depending upon the kind of disease for which they seek treatment.

How Long does the Bruise take to Disappear?

Acupuncture bruises normally take about a week to disappear. Bruises from cupping last from 3-4 days to one week. They may last longer if the patient in unwell. Bruises recover quicker in persons who are physically active throughout the day, as compared to those who have a sedentary lifestyle. The marks become progressively lighter as and when the stagnation gets relieved.

How to Treat Bruises Naturally?

It is not possible to take medications after each session of cupping or acupuncture unless the bruising does not heal. Some home remedies will help you manage bruises in a more natural and harmless way.

  • Apply ice packs over bruised areas.
  • Swollen areas may be relieved by applying heat locally.
  • Drinking plenty of water helps to get rid of bruise marks from cupping.
  • Lightly massage the cupped area with your fingers or thumb. A comb or a soft brush may also be used.
  • Vanilla extract has anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces skin discoloration.
  • Essential oils like lavender and tea tree oil may be used. Simply apply these oils over bruised areas.
  • Vitamin C tablets or natural vitamin C from citrus fruits help in speeding up healing.
  • Local application of arnica oil works miraculously to heal bruised areas.
  • Applying juice of ginger over bruises reduces swelling and inflammations.
  • Garlic clove for local application or to be eaten.
  • Applying cabbage juice helps to get rid of bruised marks early.

In spite of following a good diet and regime and implementing the above mentioned home remedies, if you observe any signs of non-healing, swelling, pain or pus formation, you must not ignore them. The certain condition may also require immediate medical attention.

Such things need to be informed to your therapist immediately. Upon timely informing, your therapist will be more careful while delivering acupuncture or cupping therapy during subsequent visits.


Dr. Himanshi Purohit

Dr. Himanshi is a Homeopathic consultant currently working as a lecturer in Post-graduate faculty of Homeopathy, Parul University, Vadodara.