Side Effects in Auricular Acupuncture

| July 17, 2011 | 0 Comments | 818 views

Occasionally, following ear acupuncture treatment, the ear may develop an adverse skin reaction. Every precaution must be taken to avert any skin inflammation as a result of the ear treatment. Thorough asepsis of the ear by means of clean needle technique must be maintained to prevent infection to the delicate auricle. All treatment materials positioned in the ear must be sterile. Remember that the ear is richly supplied with lymphatic vessels, thus making the ear particularly susceptible to infection.

Infection of the ear, known as auricular perichondritis, has been the subject of many studies. O. Davis states, “Acupuncture must be considered a form of penetrating trauma that may induce a perichondritis or chondritis in the auricle.”3 In one such study, Johansen and Nielson wrote, “Repeated cultures showed growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Despite intensive antibiotic treatment and extensive surgical toilet, the patient developed a severely deformed outer ear.”4 Of particular danger is penetration of the perichondrium by needles, tacks, and intradermals.

Palle Rosted shows that “the inoculation of organisms into the subperichondral plane can occur. The chronic presence of a foreign body further impairs the host’s ability to eradicate infection. Permanent cosmetic changes to the ear may ensue. Repeated manipulation of implanted needles can cause further irritation and subperichondrial inoculation. This can happen to all patients, especially those who have diabetes, are immunosuppressed, or have a chronic debilitating disease.”

Retention of the ear treatment modality for too long or under improper conditions may be precipitating factors in ear infection. The metal the modality is composed of is also correlated with skin reactions. Rosted notes that “skin reactions in the form of eczema may develop in patients sensitive to nickel, chromium, or silver. Stainless steel has been known to produce free nickel in certain situations.”5 F. Leggat et al. claim that “small particles of silver from a needle may accidentally be deposited in the ear, leading to the development of localized cutaneous argyria presenting as a blue-black macule

in the skin.”

As with all acupuncture treatment, there are certain conditions under which ear acupuncture should not be administered, as it can create undesirable side effects. These contraindications include:

• A patient who is overtired, physically or mentally. Treatment at this time can further weaken the patient and the Qi that is already in a deficient state. Light-headedness or fainting can result.

• A patient who is under the influence of mind-altering drugs, including alcohol; treatment should be postponed.

• A patient who has overeaten; he/she may be uncomfortable or unresponsive during treatment. Conversely, if the patient is very hungry (considered a weakened state), acupuncture also should be postponed.

The potential signs of acupuncture-induced illness in auricular acupuncture are the same as with body acupuncture. They include dizziness, palpitations, cold sweats, nausea, chest tightness, fidgeting, weak pulse, fainting, and even unconsciousness.

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Category: Acupuncture Courses, Auricular Acupuncture

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