Acupuncture Aftercare

Cherry Blossoms

You’ve just finished your first acupuncture treatment and hopefully you’re feeling great!  With the recommendations and treatment plan from your acupuncturist, you are on the path to feeling better. This post should answer any additional questions you may have for what to do after your treatment.


The first thing people usually notice after acupuncture is something we like to call the “acu-daze.” It usually feels like a mix of mild euphoria and a little bewilderment. It happens as your body adjusts to the effects of the needles and is very common. It’s nothing to worry about and goes away fairly quickly. If you feel really out of it, just sit down for a bit and have some water or a snack before leaving. 

Can You Exercise After Acupuncture? 

Once you get home, there are just a few things to keep in mind as you go about the rest of your day. The first thing is to limit your exercise. Walking is okay, but try to avoid anything more vigorous. Acupuncture is analgesic (pain relieving), so your body’s pain signals may be different immediately after treatment. 

This can happen even if we’re not treating you for pain, so it’s best just to rest. This is only for the same day of your treatment. After you wake up the next day, you’re clear to go back to your normal exercise routine! 

Why Am I Supposed to Drink Water After Acupuncture? 

A large part of how acupuncture works is via circulation. Increased water intake helps your circulation work better and therefore helps the effects of acupuncture. Though it may seem counterintuitive, if you have any swelling condition it is twice as important for you to drink water. Proper hydration will help these sorts of issues resolve faster. 

Pay Closer Attention to How You Feel After Treatment 

The last thing is for your acupuncturists, but it will also help you in the long run. In the next few days after your treatment, try to pay closer attention to how you feel. Typically we expect the effects of acupuncture to mimic a wave. The effect will crest in potency, then gradually diminish over time. 

How much of an effect you experience and how long it lasts are all important information for your practitioner to know. Equally important, is how your symptoms return. If symptoms return the same or return differently, that can change how we approach your treatment. 

If you don’t notice any change initially, then don’t worry. Acupuncture effects will build over time and everyone responds differently. Some conditions and some people can take a little longer to change. 

Bruising After Acupuncture 

Acupuncture normally doesn’t cause any side effects. There are a few that can happen, but usually only in specific circumstances. The only common side effect is bruising around a needle site. 

If you notice itching, raised skin, or bruising around the area where a needle has been, then the best thing to do is apply pressure to the area. Needle bruises are bleeding under the skin, so pressure on the bruise will stop the bleeding and keep the bruise small. Then it will go away like any other bruise. 

Change in Energy After Acupuncture.

One of the less common side effects could be a change in energy after treatment. If you have more or less energy after your treatment, then just try not to use it and rest. Your energy will most likely return to normal the next day. 

If you have low energy that lasts more than a day then you’re most likely sensitive to acupuncture. This is a good thing and you should mention it to your acupuncturist at your next appointment so we can adjust your treatment accordingly. 

Soreness After Acupuncture 

Another rare side effect is an increase in pain or soreness after acupuncture. If you have an increase in pain or soreness after acupuncture then it usually only happens the first time and usually only when we’re treating you for pain. 

As mentioned, acupuncture affects circulation. Sometimes when we increase circulation through an area where you have pain, then it can temporarily “stir-up” the inflammation in that area before your body resolves it. 

This is normal and the way to resolve it is by applying ice to the affected area. Apply ice for 10 minutes, remove it for 10 minutes, then apply again for 10 minutes. This is one cycle. Repeat the cycle as many times as needed until the pain resolves.

Acupuncture Aftercare Summary

Here are the key steps to take after your acupuncture treatment to ensure optimal recovery and benefits.

  • Limit your exercise after acupuncture treatment
  • Drink extra water after acupuncture treatment
  • Pay closer attention to how you feel after acupuncture treatment 
  • Care for common side effects like bruising
  • Pay attention to changes in energy level
  • Pay attention to increase in pain or soreness

And that’s all you need to know! If you have any more questions specific to your treatment, you can contact your acupuncturist. We look forward to seeing you again soon! 

Ready to Feel Better?

If you could use some pain relief and  support, then give acupuncture and herbal medicine a try. Your acupuncturist will use your tongue, pulse, medical history, and current symptoms to create a completely customized treatment plan that is just for you — because you deserve to feel better. To get started, head to our booking page and schedule your first appointment. If you’d like us to check your insurance benefits, we’d be happy to take care of that for you. Many insurance plans cover acupuncture. Our acupuncture clinic in Washington, DC is in-network with CareFirst/BlueCross and Aetna.

About the Author

Zach Beattie, MAc.OM, Dipl.OM, L.Ac.
Associate Acupuncturist at  
 Learn more about me

I find working as an acupuncturist to be truly inspiring, and am excited to come to work each day. I consider myself to be an integrative practitioner, and while I focus on Chinese medicine, I also incorporate Western medical concepts to best serve my patients.

Cherry Blossom Healing Arts
Cherry Blossom Healing Arts - logo
Open 7 days a week:
Mon 10:45 am – 8:00 pm
Tue 10:45 am – 8:00 pm
Wed 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
Thu 9:45 am – 8:00 pm
Fri 8:15 am – 5:15 pm
Sat 8:15 am – 5:15 pm
Sun 9:45 am – 7:00 pm

2639 Connecticut Ave NW
Suite C-101
Washington, DC 20008
Get Directions