The trendy practice of acupuncture caused a 79-year-old woman's lung to collapse, doctors have revealed.
The Portuguese woman, whose name has not been revealed, decided to have the ancient Chinese practice for her back pain.
But two days later, she was rushed to hospital with shortness of breath and sharp pains in her shoulder.
Doctors found part of her right lung had collapsed and they blamed the tiny needles used in acupuncture for her life-threatening complication.
Luckily she made a full recovery within days, but doctors have stressed that improper practice could lead to life-threatening problems.
A 79-year-old woman suffered a collapsed lung (see top left, circled) after having acupuncture for chronic back pain, doctors have revealed in BMJ Case Reports
The woman was treated within three days at University Hospital Centre of Lisbon Central, Portugal (pictured, her recovered lung). Doctors have warned of the complications that might occur with the ancient Chinese form of complementary medicine
Acupuncture is a form of ancient complementary medicine that has been in Europe since approximately the 17th century.
The traditional view is energy, or 'Qi', flows through 12 channels, called meridians, in the body and if the flow is interrupted it can cause ill-health.
Inserting tiny needles and manipulating them at 'trigger points' restores the flow of energy and relieves pain, advocates say.
They also claim it may have beneficial benefits for the nervous system, circulation, hormones and muscle tone.
The 79-year-old woman's story was told by doctors at University Hospital Centre of Lisbon Central.
They wrote in the BMJ Case Reports that the woman had a background of high blood pressure and osteoarticular disease, which affects the joints, muscles and bones.
It was her first time having acupuncture treatment to relieve her chronic upper back pain.
The NHS advises on its Choices website that acupuncture is safe when practiced with good hygiene by a qualified practitioner.
Some people experience mild, short-lived side effects such as:
Pain where the needles puncture the skin
Bleeding or bruising where the needles puncture the skin
Feeling dizzy or faint