One of the most common questions I hear is, “Do acupuncture needles hurt?”
Though I’ve never met anyone who “loves needles” there are some who are more bothered by the idea than others. Also keep in mind, acupuncture needles are very different than those used during blood tests and flu shots.
The short answer is no, acupuncture does not hurt! But since it helps to be relaxed during treatment and know what to expect, there are often some sensations involved in the process that I am sure to explain.
Good news: Depending on the needle size, between 18-40 acupuncture needles fit inside a hypodermic needle!
First, acupuncture needles are extremely thin, similar to a hair or whisker. It’s often helpful to mention that they are thin enough that many can fit inside a hypodermic needle (the medical type used to draw blood, etc).
Usually patients do feel a quick pinch, for less than one second, as the needle first enters the skin. Once the needle is through the skin, any sharp discomfort should be over. Since the needle’s job is to activate and rebalance the body’s energy, sometimes there is a heavy, dull ache, or pressure feeling. Occasionally there is a feeling of warmth, tingling, or spreading in the area. Some areas, such as the hands and feet, tend to be more sensitive than others, such as the leg, arm, or belly.
In general, resting with needles in your body is quite a bit more relaxing than it sounds! Often patients fall asleep during treatment, or at least go into a very restful state of mind, similar to that of meditation.
Don’t miss out on acupuncture, just because you “don’t like needles” – this gentle yet powerful medicine can bring you much needed relief from bothersome symptoms. It’s worth it for your health and improved quality of life!