When you may remember the experience of getting your blood drawn at the doctor or getting vaccinations. The truth is that these experiences with needles are nothing like getting acupuncture (thank goodness). Let me explain why.
- Acupuncture needles are MUCH thinner than regular needles. About 40 acupuncture needles can fit inside a typical hypodermic needle used to draw blood. A thinner needle means that there will be less chance of pain. Most are so thin that they need plastic guide tube to prevent the needle from bending when it is inserted. They are flexible and look like the width of a thin human hair.
- Acupuncture needles are specifically made to be painless. The goal is to get the needle through the skin with as little sensation as possible, so acupuncture needles are designed to be pain-free. They are engineered to have a smooth tip that can easily enter the skin without you knowing it. Hypodermic needles are thick and hollow, and engineered to take something out of your body or put something in.
- Technique makes it more comfortable. Acupuncturists are trained to insert the needle as quickly and painlessly as possible. Most hair follicles and nerve endings are at the surface of the skin, so once the needle is in, there is little chance you will feel it.
- Many fall asleep with needles in: Acupuncture is usually a very relaxing experience. Many people fall asleep on the table, and feel a deep sense of calm and relaxation. Have you ever fallen asleep while getting blood drawn? It’s a very different experience.
People are usually very pleasantly surprised by how painless acupuncture is. I often hear, “You put the needle in? I didn’t feel anything!” Sensations that are common and often desired (it tells us the needles are doing their job) are: a heavy sensation around the needle, tingling, buzzing, and hot or cold sensations.
Other people worry about the possibility of contracting disease through acupuncture needles. In the US, acupuncturists (at least every one that I know) uses sterile, one-use, disposable needles. They come in sealed packages and are opened just for your acupuncture treatment, and are disposed of in a sharps container once they are removed. Other Chinese medical treatment options such as gua sha, herbs, cupping, moxibustion, and massage are all very effective as well.
Once you get over the initial anxiety about needles, you will be hooked on how great you feel once you are on the table.