Acupuncturist Questions Acupuncture

Does acupuncture hurt the first time?

I'm 37 years old, and I'm going to have my first acupuncture session next week. Does it hurt the first time? I'm getting it for my back pain

27 Answers

Hurt... is a loaded word having a precise meaning. It implies that the sensation of pain is difficult. I don't find the sensation difficult to ignore, personally. Most people report it is very endurable as far as sensations go, and some do not produce a pain sensation at all. It generally hurts the worst the first time though... just because you are nervous trying this weird, new to you thing and have been conditioned that needles hurt by previous medical interventions. I describe it in these terms. The worst needle sensation probably feels like the worst mosquito bite you have experienced... annoying, yes. Or maybe like when you are frying food and some grease splashes on you... stings a bit, but tolerable. Most of it is relatively painless... but every once in a while a point is ouchy.
I’m assuming you’ve already had your first treatment! But I thought I’d weigh in anyway. Different Acupuncturists use different techniques and if one is not comfortable for you, I urge you to try another. My philosophy has always been that acupuncture should not cause discomfort because I believe tension in the body is counter productive.
No, it doesn't. You might feel something like a mosquito bite at the most.
Acupuncture is virtually painless. You may be aware of the needle being inserted, but after the initial insertion you shouldn't feel too much. Sometimes patients feel a spreading or warming sensation. If you feel anything that is too uncomfortable, be sure to let your practitioner know.
Acupuncture does have its own ways to get rid of pain, discomfort, and imbalance but is not without a small prick of the needle. You will be OK.

Be well, be confident, we can help.
Not really, depending on the doctor's experience.
There is no pain ever if you have a good doctor with a proper technique.
No it does not hurt
Most of the time, acupuncture is not painful, but sometimes one or two needles might cause a little pain. If you feel any discomfort, please, inform the practitioner and he or she will remove the needle. When you are receiving your therapy, you should not feel any pain and you should be able to relax. It is also recommended to stay still during the session so you
don't contract muscles where the needles are inserted. It will avoid any unwanted discomfort.

Alexandre Hillairet, DAOM.
Don't worry - you're not the first person to worry about the potential pain and you certainly won't be the last! A lot of people out there are hesitant to try acupuncture because it does use needles! However, the needles licensed acupuncturists use are much, much thinner than the needles typically used at your primary care practice. Think a fraction of the size. As in, your skin is more likely to hurt the needle (i.e. bend it) than it is to hurt you! However, with that said, needles are sharp objects and we do need to insert them into specific points. So there may be a very quick "pinching" sensation, like what you might feel if a gnat were to bite you. Once the needle is inserted, there should not be any type of pain. Awareness that something is there? Totally normal. But that's not pain. Some people do not feel the needle once it has been inserted. I recommend that people practice deep breathing their first time and have the practitioner insert the needle on the out breath.
It hurts, but you will be loving it.
As an acupuncturist, I'm asked this question a lot, and I prefer to be honest about it. Of course it will hurt, but how much it hurts can be variable from nothing at all or very minimal feeling to occasionally more pain.

Pain experienced during acupuncture will depend on the patient's disposition towards pain - some people are simply more sensitive than others, and factors like not being hydrated, having too much caffeine, or being ready to start your menstrual cycle can all increase sensitivity. Another big factor is the practitioner, every person is very very different in regard to needling technique, some may have a stronger approach while others are more gentle. Just let your acupuncturist know you're nervous about pain and ask them to take a more gentle approach. Each treatment will also feel different from the time before, one time some points may hurt a bit while the next time no pain, so whether it's your first time or 100th time there's no way we can predict how it will feel.

Another thing to keep in mind for some peace of mind is that 30 acupuncture needles can fit into the hole in a needle you would have your blood drawn with! They're about twice the thickness of a strand of hair, and pain is usually quite minimal to non-existent. Sometimes receiving acupuncture can be more likely to feel strange or weird than painful, but in the end it's
very likely to help you with your pain.
Acupuncture is relatively painless every time. There may be a point now and then that has a slight pinch, but for the most part, you don't' feel much. In the entire course of my career, no one has ever complained that it was too painful to want to continue and that includes children. I hope that help. Happy healing!
Thank you for your question,

Everyone has different levels of sensation. You may feel a tiny pinch, but then you won’t feel anything at all. This is the most common experience. This is not to say that you will feel something different.

Try not to have any anxiety or fear about it. And just see what happens. You can always change your mind. Your acupuncture should be willing to discuss with you any of your needs or concerns. Most people find the experience very relaxing.

I hope it goes well for you.

Dr. B
Acupuncture needles are very thin needles. They are as thin as 0.25 mm. They are even thinner than sewing needles. The design of acupuncture needle with guiding tube to help the needle goes quickly through the skin so you will not feel much when needling. You may have needling sensation (soreness, numbness...) but not pain. You should go to acupuncture clinic and ask the acupuncturist to show you the really size of needle.
Good morning,

In a skillful practitioner's hands, patients receiving acupuncture should not experience pain at any time except in very few tender spots. During the treatment, you may experience some numbness or soreness, which is an indication of the treatment working.

It's great that you are open to trying something new. The way acupuncture feels differs from patient to patient. Some of my patients giggle the whole way through and say that it tickles, others say it's a small pinch. When you go in for your session, let them know it's your first time and would like to go slow. Also, please make sure to avoid alcohol 24 hours prior to
a session.
I also wanted to let you know that acupuncture is fantastic for pain, and back pain especially so. Enjoy!
Usually, most treatments do not hurt. Acupuncture treatments is safe, most acupuncture points, when the needle is inserted, cause no pain, but some points may cause pain when the needle is inserted. It's okay, the pain just stays a short time.
If you are the sensitive type, ask if your practitioner can use Japanese needles instead of Chinese needles. They're smaller and quite painless.
You should never feel pain from the insertion of the needle. There may be a pinch for a second, but otherwise, you shouldn't feel any sharp or burning sensations. If you do, tell your acupuncturist right away so they can adjust the needle.
With manipulation of the needle you may feel heaviness, pressure, aching, spreading or traveling sensations. These are all normal and a sign that your body is interacting with the treatment. They can be intense at times so if it's too much, tell your acupuncturist so they can adjust their technique. If something feels off, don't be afraid to speak up.

I find that when someone is nervous, every needle hurts. Remember you're in control, so breathe and relax! If you want to know when your practitioner is going to needle, ask them to count down or to insert with your exhale so you're prepared. If you don't want to know, close your eyes and focus on easy breathing.
Depends on your comfort level with needles and how your body reacts when certain acupuncture points are used. The post needle effects vary from each person.
Please keep in mind that acupuncture needles are not the same as a hypodermic needle - the kind MDs use to draw blood or give a shot. It is a very thin wire barely the size of a human hair. We can actually stick up to 44 of our needles into a hypodermic needle. So, the fear of needles is really based on your not experiencing our needles and so compare them to hypodermics and this is not how it will actually be.

When you have a needle session, you will feel the prick of the needle (but not always) and then you may feel a sensation that varies from warmth, a muscle jump, a moving sensation, a heavy feeling or any variety of other sensations. Some areas of the body are more sensitive, so you may feel it more in one place than another. Sometimes you don't feel the needle at all and sometimes it may be too much for you. In all cases, you just let your practitioner know and they will adjust accordingly. None of us want our patients in pain, especially when we are treating them to relieve pain, so if you the needle does cause pain, just let the Acupuncturist know and they will adjust the needle accordingly or remove the needle completely.

Most times and with most techniques the needles are barely noticed - some treatments do require a muscle release and so you'll feel a sensation, but it wanes very quickly. If you are tense during the treatment it will generally make the needling more difficult, so please do the best you can to trust the professional to do their best to help you instead of worrying if it will hurt or not.

Good luck and enjoy the experience. Remember, most of my patients fall asleep while needled, even on their very first acupuncture session.
Depending on the style used, acupuncture can be quite painless. If there is an area of constricted blood flow or qi (energy) flow, you may feel a temporary dull sensation with needling. This is a positive sign that flows are being restored and you are on your way for relief of your back pain.
Some areas for your back may seem more painful than others once the acupuncture needle is inserted. After the first prick, you may feel something but then it goes away.
Acupuncture needles are typically not much thicker than a hair, and their insertion is practically painless. The sensation is not comparable to receiving an ordinary injection. In some cases, you will not even know the needles are in place. In others, there may be some tingling, warmth, or heaviness moving up and down the body. Most people find acupuncture extremely relaxing and many fall asleep during treatment.
Generally, no, acupuncture does not hurt. That doesn't mean you might not feel a few of the needles on initial insertion, but after a second or two there shouldn't be any sharp pain.

There are some very common needle sensations that are often confused for pain. Sometimes folks might feel a mild electrical type sensation that propagates up or down from where the needle is inserted, you might also feel a dull throbbing ache around the needle or a mild distending sensation around the needle (somewhat like someone is blowing a balloon up under the skin around the needle). These are all normal and, as long as they're not so intense as to be distracting, are actually desirable during treatment.