Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
I have received many acupuncture treatments over the past few months. However, after my last treatment, my hand swelled into the shape of a bubble at one of the locations of the needle between my thumb and forefinger; it feels sore, tight, and is a little painful. Eight hours and an anti-inflammatory later, the swelling has not gone down. Is this common? Should I seek medical treatment?
A: I would suggest seeking medical treatment if the pain and swelling does not subside within 24 hours. Also, seek medical attention if the bubble increases in size, changes color, or begins to bleed or ooze.
Did the practitioner use moxa—a smoking stick that generates localized heat? Your description sounds like it could be a mild burn. If it is a burn, do not puncture it but rather simply use sterile gauze to keep it clean.