When I first tell people I meet that I am an acupuncturist, it is commonly met with the question “Does it hurt?” or a comment referring to their fear of needles, such as “Oh I couldn’t do that, I’m afraid of needles”. I love this question … and I get it.
A fear of needles usually stems from a traumatizing experience in the nurses office from childhood and I am happy to help clarify how acupuncture needles are (and feel) vastly different.
Acupuncture needles are thin, solid and made to be flexible (about the diameter of a human hair). The tip is ‘cone shaped’ and designed to slide between muscle fibres and not damage the flesh on entry or withdrawal.
Standard hypodermic needles, typically used in shots or drawing blood, are much thicker, rigid and hollow with a blade in the tip designed to cut through the skin and blood vessel to deliver vaccines, medicine or take blood .
As for how it feels? Well, everyone describes it a little differently but mostly, first-timers are surprised because they barely notice the needles going in. There are areas in the body where patients feel it more and have described it as a zing, dull ache or like a mosquito bite at the most.
As for how it feels once the needles are in? I can safely say that the majority of clients describe the process as one of the most relaxed states they have ever been in, some even fall asleep. When the needles make contact with the intended points and begin doing their magic, I’ve heard people describe the sensation as poetically as “twangy”, a pulsing, throbbing, tingling or numbness. I tell them, as long as it’s anything BUT pain, that this is a great sign that the body is reacting appropriately and the treatment is working effectively.
I applaud those I meet who confront their fear of ‘needles’ and enjoy watching them leave my office feeling empowered AND pain free – able to put any apprehension behind them and ready to tackle the next challenge knowing what they are capable of when they open themselves up to new experiences.