||I understand the fear of needles. What most people are familiar
with is the hypodermic needle of western medicine. They use
it to draw blood or inject fluids, so they have to be hollow,
and as a result are much bigger than our needles. Ours are
solid, and much, much thinner. In fact, they are only about
twice the thickness of hair. It's probably more accurate to
describe them as filaments, but needles are the usual word.
When I show them to new patients, and demonstrate how easily
you can bend them, they say, "how can you make this go straight?"
That's just one of the skills of the acupuncturist we learn in
school. I actually was able to get through a leather shoe with
a 34 gauge needle without bending it.
Most new patients are amazed how little they feel when the acupuncture
needle is inserted. Sometimes they ask, "Did you put it in
already?" If you feel anything, there may be a quick sharp
sensation as it goes through the skin. Then there will be nothing
at all, or a dull spreading sensation. This is call "big
That dull spreading sensation isn't painful, but it can be intense
depending on the situation or the needling technique. Some patients
are very sensitive, so we don't needle as deeply on them.
A couple other sensations that we don't want are the shooting
electric feeling if we hit a nerve, or the sharp feeling of being
to close to a vein. Neither does much harm. The worst that happens
is you get a small bruise in the area. We never get any residual
effect from hitting a nerve. You should tell the acupuncturist
if you feel the electric or sharp sensations, and they can change
the location or direction of the needle. These are rather rare
Basically, acupuncture is very comfortable, and what little temporary
discomfort might occasionally occur is more than made up for by
its relaxing and healing effects.