Is there bad acupuncture?

If I suspected an illness and believed in acupuncture, could I just start inserting needles randomly in my body. Or is there some places I just should not poke?

Probably should avoid the eyes.

If you believe in acupuncture you’d believe the needles must be place in specific locations based on the illness you suspect. There are charts like this one pointing out the locations.

Yes, all of it.

Are there other charts pointing out different locations?

No-one has ever been seriously hurt by sharp pieces of metal penetrating their body.

What could possibly go wrong?

On a more serious note, people have actually died from incorrect acupuncture techniques, so you don’t want to just shove needles in random places all over your body. Here’s a cite:

From here: Dozens killed by incorrectly placed acupuncture needles | Medical research | The Guardian
The article cites a study published in the International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine.

Yes, there are any number of places you shouldn’t just poke, even if you believe in acupuncture. Of course, where you SHOULD poke is often up for debate, as I believe many different schools (I guess?) of acupuncture have different layouts of places where they advocate putting the needles to fix or cure a given alignment or create a given effect. Which should tell you something about acupuncture.

As for the OP title: Is there bad acupuncture?

Well, more an opinion/anecdote, but definitely yes. At the urging of my sister and older brother (who are both into woo), I went to an acupuncturist for a chronic issue with my shoulder. Long story short, it was both painful and useless. Basically, I have a rotator cuff injury and the lady was putting acupuncture needles into my shoulder then sending jolts of electricity into it causing it to spasm. It took me weeks to recover and get back to just the pain levels I had before going. I’ve never been back, needless to say.

Pinhead from Hellraiser?

Well-conducted studies have not only shown that “bad” acupuncture (needles going into the “wrong” locations) works as well as acupuncture hitting the alleged chi locations - but that sham acupuncture that doesn’t even pierce the skin has results basically indistinguishable from “real” acupuncture.

*"The lack of any advantage of real- over sham-acupuncture means that it does not matter where the needles are placed. This is completely consistent with the hypothesis that any perceived benefits from acupuncture are non-specific effects from the process of getting the treatment, and not due to any alleged specific effects of acupuncture. In other words, there is no evidence that acupuncture is manipulating chi or anything else, that the meridians have any basis in reality, or that the specific process of acupuncture makes any difference.

More recent trials have attempted to improve the blinded control of such trials by using acupuncture needles that are contained in an opaque sheath. The acupuncturist depresses a plunger, and neither they nor the patient knows if the needle is actually inserted. The pressure from the sheath itself would conceal any sensation from the needle going in. So far, such studies show no difference between those who received needle insertion and those who did not – supporting the conclusion that acupuncture has no detectable specific health effect."*

The prestigious Cochrane Review says otherwise.

Cochrane previously concluded that true and sham acupuncture’s effects on migraine were indistinguishable, and the evidence cited in their more recent review is, shall we say, less than overwhelming:

"The frequency of headaches halved in 50 of 100 people receiving true acupuncture, compared with 41 of 100 people receiving ‘fake’ acupuncture. "

“Our findings about the number of days with migraine per month can be summarized as follows. If people have six days with migraine per month on average before starting treatment, this would be reduced to five days in people receiving only usual care, to four days in those receiving fake acupuncture or a prophylactic drug, and to three and a half days in those receiving true acupuncture.”

"the updated evidence also suggests that there is an effect over sham, but this effect is small. "

Color me less than impressed with their “moderate” evidence.

One thing to wonder about: in how many of the clinical trials using “sham” acupuncture were the practitioners blinded to which intervention they were giving? It could be problematical, seeing that if they know they’re doing the “real” intervention, they’re liable to be more enthusiastic, and transmit that to the patient even if they don’t explicitly reveal what’s happening.

Much of medicine is distracting the patient from their symptoms and letting time take care of the problem.

The art of medicine is knowing when to intervene with something that can truly make a difference. And so far acupuncture doesn’t appear to be something that can truly make a difference.

How true:

Obviously you’re not too keen on statistics.

With a total sample size of around 1200 the result implies that 600 improved with real acupuncture vs. only 492 improving with fake acupuncture. Very unlikely that this is due to chance.

The “science-based” medicine blog that you linked deliberately misrepresents the facts.

One way or the other :slight_smile:
It reminds me of a parent shaking toys in front of a hurt toddler’s face. Is this way of doing things related to the overprescription of opioid painkillers?

Are there distraction methods which tend to be effective in most cases?

Acupuncture is more than just poking needles into your body ! When I had it done my pulse was checked before the treatment started and it was checked after each needle was used on me .The acupuncturists I saw didn’t treat their self they had another acupuncturist treat them . Acupuncture works it’s not some kind of voodoo were needles are poked into a doll but if someone going start poking dirty needles all over their body then it would be vooddoody

I had a few sessions a few years ago to help with my insomnia. It didn’t work, but it was kind of a cool feeling.

Except for once when they hit a nerve. This was on the top of my foot. I can’t pinpoint (heh) the exact spot but… yeah, that was bad acupuncture.

Ah, it is poking needles into your body with time-filler and dramatics!

Message boards? It might explain the posts where people say “I was just attacked by an alligator and my left foot was ripped off. Should I see a doctor?”