Acupuncturist Questions Acupuncture

Does having acupuncture hurt?

I heard that acupuncture is great for helping to relieve everyday stress and headaches, which I suffer from almost daily. Does acupuncture hurt at all? Can you feel the needles?

21 Answers

Yes, but not really painful. You may feel acid, hemp, or swelling; that’s the body's normal reaction.
Hi there,
Acupuncture techniques use very fine needles. None of my patients ever complaint pain or hurt. Having said that, of course it depends on the individual sensitivity as well. There will be some sensation due to the fact that an instrument fine needle is inserted into your body. It will puncture nerves and fine vessels but nevertheless will not cause any harm or discomfort to the patients.
Patients confuse pain with normal sensations from the needle insertions. A person can feel no sensation, heaviness, pressure or there may be a sudden sensation that travels away from the needle, these are all normal and any sensation is gone in a matter of seconds. If after 5 seconds a needle is bothering the patient I adjust the needle or take it out.
No, acupuncture does not hurt. It does help with pain.

Susan Friedrich
Hello. You heard correctly that acupuncture is a great way to get relief from headaches and stress. I am sorry to hear you suffer from these on a daily basis. I could definitely help you with acupuncture treatment. No, acupuncture does not hurt like a shot you would receive in a physician's office. The needles I use are more like tiny cat whiskers and most of my patients say they cannot feel the needles at all.
The honest answer is: sometimes. Acupuncture needles are extremely fine; they're about the thickness of a cat's whisker. Most of the time, for most people, the needle insertion and retention goes completely unnoticed. Sometimes, in some people, the initial insertion will feel somewhat sharp or pinch-y, but this sensation should fade rather quickly. Common needle sensations are: a dull ache at the site, a short lived 'electrical' type pins and needles feeling or a distending feeling - like someone is blowing up a balloon under the skin around the needle. For the most part, these are desired sensations - though those not familiar with acupuncture can find them disconcerting at first.

There is a lot that affects what any given patient may or may not feel: the skill of the practitioner, the sensitivity of the patient, the particular point being used and so on. That being said, acupuncture should not be uncomfortable. Any needle that is giving you a sharp, stabbing sensation after sitting for a moment should either be removed or re-positioned. Don't be afraid to provide feedback to your practitioner in this regard.
Yes, you can feel the needles, but it is not the same as getting a shot or getting a tattoo. The needles are thin like a hair and do not cut through the skin like a hypodermic b/c it is a solid piece of steel. In most acupuncture sessions, the patient isn't aware of the needles, but some sensitive people feel the prick and some areas are more sensitive than others, so those areas are painful b/c of the sensitivity in that area. These include the bottom of the feet, the palms, inner wrist, etc. The feeling usually wanes pretty quickly though.

Keep in mind that different practitioners use different sized needle gauges and there are many different acupuncture techniques and styles. Thicker needles hurt a little more and more aggressive techniques you can feel, but it is all relevant to the skill and style of each practitioner as well as the reason for treatment. For example, If you are coming in for just relaxation, the needle session should be quite pain free. If you are coming in for tight muscles, there may be some technique that "jumps" the muscle - that can be an intense feeling, but it retreats immediately. It is basically the muscle twitching from tight to relaxed as it resets to normal from a tense state. Or you may feel some traveling sensation as the body is resetting itself, i.e., something going down leg or up to head. These are all normal reactions the body is doing as it regulates itself. You should never be "in pain" though. If you are "in pain" from an inserted needle, let the practitioner know so they can adjust it. No one really can explain an acupuncture treatment; you really have to go to experience what it is for yourself.
I hope it helps. Good luck.
Thank you for your inquiry!

Most people agree that acupuncture does not hurt. Acupuncture needles are very fine and penetrate the area being treated with much ease. Often, patients will say they barely felt it, or they feel just a gentle tap when the needle is inserted. Once the needle is inserted into the acupuncture point, there may be a quick dull sensation. If you feel prolonged cramping
or any kind of sharp, shooting pain, that is not typical and the needle should be removed and reinserted.

Warm regards,

Acupuncture and Wellness of the Palm Beaches
It depends on what kind of acupuncture you have done. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture use bigger needles and are looking for a strong sensation - some call it a heaviness, some a painful sensation. Japanese style needles are much smaller and don't go in very far and are barely felt if at all. Having said that, a lot of TCM practitioners now use Japanese needles so the sensation is very light.

I treat very young children (I am a Japanese practitioner), and they ask to come back to see me, so you know it's not hurting them. So check with whoever you want to see and ask what style they use.
Hello,

Most people do not find acupuncture painful, but there can be a little bit of a prickling sensation. The needles are so tiny that for the most part they are not felt when being inserted.

Nancy Knode
Great question! Acupuncture is generally considered 'painless' however, that does not mean without sensation. Sometimes patient experience some sort of sensation with the needles go in, and while every now and then one may 'pinch' I've never had anyone not come back because they found it painful and that includes small children. Most needles aren't felt at all.

For some it's not the sensation of the needle, it's the idea of the needle. ALL the patients I have treated have expressed surprise at how little they felt.
That being said, I have had patients come to be from other acupuncturists trained in other countries that use more aggressive techniques and complain that it was uncomfortable or that some acupuncturists hooked electrodes up to the needles for extra stimulation (thought that doesn't necessarily need to hurt either.)

I don't use the electrodes (I have nothing against it) because the type of acupuncture I practice does not require it (Balance Method and Master Tung Styles).

So if it's the fear of pain keeping you from trying it, rest assured, it's never as bad as people think it'll be and we treat small children. Keep in mind, just like any other type of service provider, you may need to try more than one before you find the one you click with. I hope this helps.
Happy healing!
That’s a great question. Pain isn’t always a given with acupuncture. There are many different styles of acupuncture. More aggressive styles seek to elicit a “qi response” by twisting or flicking the acupuncture needle after it is inserted. Some people might experience a bit of discomfort, while other may enjoy the feeling as a gentle current that signals the qi flow.

Gentler styles are less invasive, use thinner needles and don’t manipulate the needle after it is inserted. The qi flow is usually felt as a general sense of relaxation and sometimes euphoria.

Acupuncture is very helpful in treating stress and headaches, by the way. To find an acupuncturist that is the best fit for you, call some local acupuncturists and ask about their type of practice. You may be surprised to discover that rather than pain, there is a feeling of relief and well-being.
It is a painless procedure for most of part if the provider is skillful. However, if the affected area is inflamed, there is mild needling sensation.
It happens that a needle or two might hurt due to skin sensitivity or patient's physical state. I am confident to say that acupuncture doesn't hurt at about 95% of the time at our clinic. I have heard reports from my patients that previous practitioners who practiced, Chinese acupuncture and trained in China originally offer a more intense and painful therapy. Most
practitioners trained in the US are using a guiding tube to insert the needles which was created and developed in Japan. Such a tool offers an overall painless experience. It is also important to note that some practitioners don't have good skills therefore it is important to find a qualified and skilled provider.

Alexandre Hillairet, DAOM.
Good day,

Different people have different levels of sensation. And, the sensation can depend on where the needles are inserted.Most people, once the needles are inserted, no longer feel them. There is a technique some use where after 5-10 mins the needles are gently rotated, and this can be felt. I have never heard one say painful and it should not be. Share any needs or concerns with your provider and don’t hesitate to report how you are feeling. In healthcare, you are the driver.

Be well
The needles used for acupuncture are about the width of three hairs! They are made from stainless steel, used once and properly discarded. They are so fine that if you are properly hydrated, you may not feel them at all. Some say they feel a tiny prick, but it goes away within seconds. The benefits of acupuncture FAR outweigh the insertion of the needle.
It depends who does the acupuncture. It should not hurt. Sometimes people feel a warm, tingling sensation.
You are correct that acupuncture is great for helping to relieve stress and headaches, among many other things. Most people liken the puncture of a needle to a mosquito bite. You will feel a little prick, but it's very quick and virtually painless. The needles are much smaller than hyperdermic needles and are inserted in the muscles and fascia, a dense connective tissue. The needles are then manipulated to activate the body's energy source, or qi. Tapping into that energy source is where the magic of acupuncture lies!!! Chinese medicine has been around for thousands of years for a reason....it works!!!
It’s a common concern if acupuncture hurts. It’s a very subjective answer. In my personal experience, it has a lot to do with the provider’s energy and technique, as well as the energy and condition of the person. With my own practice, I ensure to be gentle enough to not feel my own needles. This helps my patients have a more pleasant experience. Additionally, I allow my patients to know everything I’m doing the first treatment to calm nerves. Also, we make sure to focus on the breath so as to relax even more so the treatment is even more pleasing and less likely to cause discomfort. Most people, if they do feel something, it is like a pinch.
I hope this helps qualm your fears about acupuncture. All the best for your health.
Often, you won’t feel the needles being inserted, because they are thin and gently inserted. Once a needle reaches its intended depth, you’re likely to feel a mild, dull ache or a slight tingling sensation. This may be a sign that the treatment is working and the acupuncture point is being activated. You may also feel a heavy or electric sensation. Feelings of warmth may arise at the acupuncture points.

If you feel anything that’s a severe or sharp pain, you should let your acupuncturist know. Most of the time pain or discomfort will be fleeting and last only a few seconds.
Acupuncture is great for stress and headache relief! One can definitely be more sensitive and feel the needles 'prick' especially in areas where the nerves gather like closer to the finger tips or toes vs. the elbow or shoulder/ankle or knees. Theoretically, when someone catches a cold, they are more sensitive to the needle insertion as well whereas if someone is deficient their body will welcome the needle insertions like a body massage. The needles are ultra-thin, filiform & usually stainless steel needles that more like push the skin cells aside during insertion. If the patient is super tense it is much more difficult for the needle to insert and will definitely be felt or if the needle hits a nerve. Usually, an experienced practitioner can make it easier and patients will be thankful. Other times, practitioners live by "no pain no gain."

Live happy,

Michael