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Does Acupuncture Hurt? Everything You Need to Know

WTHN Team/03.10.20

Does Acupuncture Hurt? Everything You Need to Know

You’ve probably heard ravings about acupuncture, and you likely have some questions or even some uncertainty about this ancient and now revolutionized healing process. Is it really painful? What benefits can it bring to your body? Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, having first been used in China as method of healing and relaxation. This ancient system is based on helping patients seek out the root cause of their pain or discomfort and working to prevent further illness and discomfort in the first place. 

Though acupuncture is deeply rooted in ancient Chinese practices, this method has evolved to also include modern-day techniques that many have come to love, such as multisensory healing aspects like sound therapy and heated tables. WTHN operates according to a medically recommended standard and contemporary use of modern acupuncture, targeting the body’s internal nerve and fascia network. 

After evaluating their preliminary findings and comparing them with your medical history, your acupuncturist can create a customized treatment plan that will help you along your unique acupuncture journey. 

But before you jump right into this ancient-turned-modern healing process full of pressure points and needles, let’s explore the big question: does acupuncture hurt? What should you prepare yourself for? We’re here to help you get all the answers you need to decide whether acupuncture is the right decision for you and your body.


To understand how acupuncture worked, in a traditional sense, it’s best to start with what qi is and how it affects your body. It is an energy that flows through the body, like a spirit or soul. There are meridians or energy channels where qi can get stuck or have its flow disrupted. Traditionally, those weak flows and disruptions were thought to cause illnesses. Ancient Chinese traditions encouraged the use of needles to relieve any stagnation of energy. Nowadays, companies like WTHN subscribe to modern medical practices and look to find scientifically healthy ways to perform acupuncture.

Getting to the Point 

As you may have heard, acupuncture works by inserting small, sterile, thin needles into specific points on the body. Traditionally, these needles helped to redistribute the flow of qi or unblock its path. However, now we know that the needles interact with the fascial network, which works in our bodies as an internal messenger system. 

In fact, for most people, there is little to no pain because of how thin the needles are. Acupuncture needles also have a rounded edge to prevent any excessive cutting of the skin. They are inserted into areas that have been shown to stimulate the nerves, muscles, and connective tissue. Some people use acupuncture to soothe pain because it’s thought to boost your body’s natural painkillers, known as endorphins. And that’s a win-win, right? It’s best to try to keep an open mind for your practitioner’s plan based on your evaluation.

Does it Hurt? 

Okay, so let’s get to the million-dollar question. You’re probably thinking: they’re going to insert a bunch of needles into me? We understand your hesitation. After all, you’re not a pin cushion!

But don’t worry, this is a common misconception. Many people avoid acupuncture because they’re worried about the pain, and how long the needles are, but the reality is that in modern day acupuncture, they’re so thin that you hardly feel them. This treatment is meant to heal -not hurt- and when performed by an experienced professional in a medically sound way, it should be pain-free. 

However, though you shouldn’t feel pain, you may still experience some sensations during your acupuncture session. So, what are we talking about? Luckily, most people don’t feel the insertion or removal of the needles, which is good news. However, depending on your body and level of initial discomfort, you may experience a throbbing or tingling sensation because of how the needles are stimulating your nerves. Usually how you feel depends on your level of pain tolerance and general sensitivity. The sensations you feel may also depend on where the acupuncturist inserts the needles since some areas of the body are more sensitive than others.

During your session, if a needle touches a nerve, muscle, or blood vessel, the sensations will be more acute which is completely normal, as long as the sensation is brief. Points on hands, feet, and face will also be more sensitive than limbs and torso. Anywhere near finger or toenails, or bony areas where there isn’t much flesh, will obviously be more sensitive.

Your first treatment will likely have just a little more discomfort than any of the subsequent ones because you’ve never experienced the sensation before, and it may take some getting used to. Keep in mind, though, an acupuncture needle is the width of a single strand of hair. Often the pinch of the needle inserting in will fade very quickly, but if the pain persists, let your acupuncturist know. They will likely remove or readjust the needle.

Higher gauge, or thicker, needles, or inserting the needles more deeply into the fascia is more likely to cause pain and other discomfort. That’s why it’s so important to only have acupuncture performed by contemporary licensed, experienced practitioners like those at WTHN. Additionally, some practitioners move the needles around after insertion which can cause pain in some people, but helps stimulate the fascial network to signal changes in your brain chemistry.

So, you may be wondering if it doesn’t hurt, how does it feel? Feelings of dullness or heaviness are considered positive responses. Your acupuncturist will likely chat with you during the session and gauge your responses to various needle insertions. Once a needle reaches its intended depth, you will probably feel a tingling sensation or a mild ache. But not to worry - that’s a good thing! You may also experience feelings of warmth too.

What it Does 

Acupuncture can help soothe a variety of issues and can also be used to feel better, even when you’re not sick or sore. One study even found that acupuncture can help with prescription treatments for improving mental health. You should always talk to your doctor about including holistic methods of treatment in addition to your normal regimen. Other conditions people have sought acupuncture treatment for include: 

  •   Supporting the immune system
  •   Head and neck tension
  •   Low sleep quality
  •   Relieving feelings of restlessness
  •   Joint and cartilage health
  •   Improving respiratory health

In Summary 

If you’re ready to take your own journey towards relief and relaxation, WTHN has custom acupuncture treatments that aim to soothe, loosen, restore, and strengthen which can all be specifically tailored at reasonable prices for you and your own unique journey into this ancient-turned-modern practice.







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