Does Acupuncture Hurt?
Generally no, acupuncture treatment doesn't hurt.
Some people may feel the needles go in, but it's not painful, you just notice it, like a little prick and others will feel nothing. That's how it's been for thousands of years. The needle is inserted very quickly. Once the needle is in, you may feel a dull ache or a tingling sensation, which is normal.
Having a needle inserted into the fingers or toes may feel sharp but this will only last a second or two. Removing the needles doesn't hurt either.
Why do some acupuncture points hurt?
The things that can make it feel more painful include:
- An acupuncturist who uses slightly thicker needles. This gives a better reaction with the point, but this reaction can be more uncomfortable
- The person's health problem can cause certain points to be more sensitive than others
- An acupuncturist who stimulates the needles once they are in. Some styles of acupuncture like to strongly stimulate the needles for maximum effect, which can be uncomfortable to the person receiving acupuncture
- Having electric acupuncture, which is stronger but again more uncomfortable
- Another healthcare professional such as a chiropractor, physiotherapist or osteopath who uses trigger points
- When people are weak, they are more fragile and vulnerable and their pain levels reduce, making them more sensitive. This is why it's not advisable to have acupuncture treatment when menstruating
Why do people think acupuncture is painful?
When people think of acupuncture they tend to think of having a blood test, which uses thick needles that go into veins and is painful. The needles used are very fine, so fine that you can get 20 of them into a hypodermic needle. The needles aren't put into veins, but instead into muscle tissue. Having acupuncture is not painful like having a blood test.
Dr (TCM) Attilio D'Alberto graduated from Beijing University in China and has over 14 years of practicing acupuncture in London.