Pins & Needles: Does Acupuncture Hurt?

The idea of sticking needles into our skin to relieve pain is somewhat of a juxtaposed concept. From drawing blood to getting shots, the memories and experiences associated with needles are generally unpleasant and painful. For some, the fear of pain from needles is so severe they develop a phobia called trypanophobia. However, in the practice of acupuncture, needles are used to treat countless health issues and improve overall quality of life. So what’s the secret? Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing modality  whose practitioners are well versed it its methods, tools, and techniques to guide the body in healing – without causing pain.


The Needles

The primary reason acupuncture generally doesn’t hurt is due to the needles themselves. When you get an intravenous drip or a shot, the hypodermic needles used are much bigger and are also hollow inside. Furthermore, these needles are either injecting fluid into your body or removing it. The sensation alone is also enough to cause discomfort.


Acupuncture needles are as thin as a strand of hair, very flexible, and solid. Due to their size and the technique of your practitioner, the feel of them when inserted into the skin can be imperceptible.


The Nerve Points

Nerve endings reach every point of the body; however, there are some spots where nerves are more prevalent than others. Extremities, such as fingers and toes, can experience a sharp sensation; however, pain should still not be associated with these spots. For those treating chiropractic and osteopathic issues that involve pain, treatment on the neck and back can also cause stronger reactions. Your acupuncturist is responsible for observing and adjusting to the way your body reacts to each insertion and if pain occurs, should check with you and reassess before continuing with treatment.


What You Should Feel

Pain is the last thing you should feel when receiving acupuncture treatments. According to the British Acupuncture Council, patients receiving treatments can expect to feel a tingling sensation or a dull ache at the point of insertion. If the needle is manipulated or twisted, as is done in certain techniques, the dull ache can feel more prominent. Some do not even realize the needle is in because they simply cannot feel it.
If you ever experience pain during an acupuncture session, inform your practitioner immediately. With proper assessment, tools, and technique, your experience should be relaxing and beneficial to your body. Annie Wang Acupuncture specializes in acupuncture for fertility, pregnancy, stress, and pain relief. Call us today with questions or to schedule an appointment at 650-468-3636 for our Los Altos office or 650-468-3636 for our Belmont office.

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