Body piercing myths and dangers: Can some piercings cause paralysis when done improperly?

Learn about the possible risk of paralysis from an improper body piercing. This article will explain the facts and separate them from the myths.

Although there are certain risks involved with getting a piercing, paralysis is an incredibly small possibility. The first and most important way to avoid this problem is to seek a professional and experienced piercer. There are certain major nerves in areas of the face and tongue that could result in loss of sensation or even paralysis if pierced. However, these nerves are located in very specific areas and an experienced piercer will know how to perform a safe and harmless piercing without getting anywhere close to these nerves. In fact, there despite the growing misconception that paralysis from a piercing is fairly common, there has yet to be one report of this kind of damage cause by a professional piercer.

Body piercing myths and dangers Body piercing myths and dangers: Can some piercings cause paralysis when done improperly?

Body piercing myths and dangers

Because of this, it is reasonable to say that the only real risk of paralysis would come from an inexperienced person performing the piercing. You should never attempt to pierce any location on your own body or someone else’s unless you are properly trained and experienced. Likewise, you should never allow anyone other than a professional piercer to pierce you. The myth of paralysis from body piercing does have a factual basis because there are major nerves that could be damaged by piercing them, but this is not an issue for an experienced piercer. Most cases of lost sensation from piercings are actually due to improper care of the wound. This can lead to infection which, if left untreated, could result in some serious nerve damage. Even this however, is very rare. Although a piercer should always provide instructions for caring for a piercing, it is the responsibility of the person who receives the piercing to follow the directions and take care of the wound.

One area that has been rumored to cause paralysis when pierced is the eyebrow. The only nerves near the eyebrow that could cause paralysis are the supra-orbital nerves located near the center of the eyebrow. Because of this, a piercer will never put a piece of jewelry in this location. They will always place the piercing on one side or the other, but never in the middle.
The other location most commonly associated with paralysis is the tongue. The tongue itself contains thousands of nerve endings, but it is almost impossible to damage a major nerve unless the procedure is done by someone with no knowledge of the procedure. If you attempt to pierce the tongue yourself, or allow an amateur to pierce it, you risk a loss of taste sensations, and even the possibility of a speech impediment. This also is very rare, and only caused by an inexperienced piercer.

Overall, body piercing is a very safe procedure when performed by a qualified professional. The most common complications with any piercing are from improper care and cleaning which can lead to infection. The only real risk of paralysis due to piercing would come from someone attempting the procedure who has no actual experience as a piercer. So in conclusion, yes it will hurt, yes you should always find a professional piercer, but no, you won’t be paralyzed if you do it properly.

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