Does Acupuncture Hurt?

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I often encounter apprehensive first-time patients who associate Acupuncture with the fear of pain, through a fear of needles. This reaction is quite common, given the widespread but incorrect visualisation of Acupuncture needles feeling like we are lying on a bed of nails.

The reality, however, is significantly different.

Debunking the Myth – Is Acupuncture Painful?

Let’s set the record straight – Acupuncture is not a painful procedure. The needles used in Acupuncture are a far cry from the ones commonly used for injections or drawing blood. A primary reason for this difference in discomfort is the size of the needles used in Acupuncture – typically the same width as a human hair!

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of sterile, thin needles into precise locations on the body, known as Acupuncture points. The aim is to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes, restore health, and promote balance. The practice is rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine but substantially recognised by modern medical science and is backed by thousands of studies demonstrating its effectiveness.

The Reality of Acupuncture Needles

When I describe Acupuncture needles to my patients, I often compare them to the thickness of a human hair. They are incredibly fine and cause minimal discomfort during insertion. The fear of pain is further mitigated by our careful insertion techniques and the range of Acupuncture needle sizes that we have available, which ensures maximum patient comfort.

Showing the width of an acupuncture needle

What Acupuncture Feels Like

The experience of Acupuncture varies significantly between individuals, influenced by the placement of the needles and each person’s sensitivity.

Here’s what you might feel during your treatment:

  • Dull Ache or Heavy Sensation: This sensation is often felt when the needles stimulate a muscle or group of muscles, similar to a deep tissue massage. Far from being uncomfortable, this signifies that the Acupuncture is working as it should.
  • Tingling or Electric-Like Sensation: Some people may feel a tingling or ‘electric’ sensation, often resulting from the needle coming close to a nerve.
  • Numbness: Sometimes, the area around the inserted needle may feel numb. This is a common occurrence and indicates that your body is responding positively to the treatment.
  • Warmth: Many patients report feeling warmth around the point of needle insertion. This warmth is due to increased blood flow to the area and is generally considered a positive sign.

Do Some Acupuncture Points Hurt More Than Others?

It’s worth mentioning that with over a thousand different combinations of Acupuncture points used, some points may indeed cause more discomfort than others. This can depend on several factors:

  • Location: Points on the hands and feet, or near bones and tendons, may feel more sensitive than those in more muscular or fatty areas.
  • Individual Sensitivity: Each person’s unique pain thresholds and sensitivities can also influence how they experience Acupuncture.
  • Health Condition: If a point being treated is in an already painful or inflamed area, you may feel a bit more sensitivity when the needle is inserted.

Nevertheless, Acupuncture should never cause unbearable pain. If you ever feel significant discomfort, it’s essential to communicate with us so we can adjust the needle or its placement.

patient receiving acupuncture treatment from practitioner

How Will My Body Respond to Treatment?

Acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural healing systems without causing injury. Most patients report experiencing relaxation and well-being during and after treatment. This feeling is likely because Acupuncture increases endorphin production (our body’s natural painkillers) and reduces tension and anxiety.

Keep in mind that Acupuncture isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment. Different people may experience varying intensities of sensations and that’s completely normal. Even if you feel little or nothing at the needle sites, rest assured that the treatment is still effectively promoting healing.

Will I Be Sore After an Acupuncture Treatment?

While it’s common to feel deeply relaxed and even slightly lethargic immediately following an Acupuncture session, most people do not experience soreness. However, a small number of people may feel a mild ache at the needle sites after treatment. This is typically temporary and subsides within 24 hours.

A feeling of soreness after an Acupuncture treatment can be a sign that your body is responding to the treatment, especially if you were treated for musculoskeletal issues or chronic pain. This is sometimes called the “healing crisis” and occurs when the body begins to heal and releases stored toxins.

There’s also a chance you could experience mild bruising, especially if your blood platelet count is low or if you’re on blood thinners. However, this is not the norm, and it’s usually minimal when it does occur.

If you consistently feel sore or uncomfortable after treatment, be sure to discuss this with us. While mild discomfort can be part of the process, persistent pain is not typical and may indicate a need for adjustments in your treatment protocol.

Patient receiving Acupuncture treatment

No Pain, All Gain

Acupuncture has a remarkable ability to encourage the body’s natural healing processes. You’ll be amazed at the relief and relaxation it can offer, all while minimising discomfort. Remember, a temporary pinch could open doors to long-lasting wellness.

But remember, Acupuncture goes beyond the time spent with the needles in place. The benefits extend well beyond the treatment room, from the moment you walk out feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated, to the long-term relief from chronic pain and other health concerns. If you haven’t already, I’m sure you’ll find that Acupuncture has the potential to greatly enhance the quality of life.

Wrapping it Up

Remember, Acupuncture isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience. Some patients may feel a warming sensation, some might experience a mild pinch, and others may feel so relaxed that they drift off to sleep. The beauty of Acupuncture lies in its adaptability to each individual’s condition and sensitivity, making it a deeply personalised therapy. We are always ready to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have. If you are in need of assistance, we want to make it as smooth and comfortable as possible. So reach out to us on (02) 4709 6727 or book an appointment online today, we look forward to discussing how we can help in your situation.