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  • Dr. Mark Freund

Is Acupuncture Painful? | What To Expect During Treatment

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

When you think about acupuncture, you may wonder what it feels like to have a needle inserted into your body. You must understand that acupuncture is not meant to harm you and is generally less painful and risky than other forms of pain treatment. You will feel different sensations during the healing process of acupuncture. Some of these experiences can be described as having a tingling sensation or feeling like a weight has been added to the skin. Most people find pleasure and relaxation due to these sensations. It is rarely described as painful or excruciating but rather simply a mild form of discomfort.

Understanding Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been around for about 2,500 years. It is used in China to cure diseases and improve well-being. It has been used for centuries to treat all kinds of health conditions as a form of alternative medicine.

Acupuncture is carried out by inserting a needle into a specific point of the skin to activate what the body knows as ‘qi’ (pronounced "chi"). Acupuncturists use a needle to release the so-called ‘qi’ which refers to the body’s energy and move it to other parts of the body to aid healing.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, ‘qi’ is the life force that helps to regulate and move things in and out of your body to keep you healthy. Stress, environmental factors, lifestyle, and genetics are some of the things that can be blocked in our bodies.

acupuncture traditional chinese medicine

In China, for example, acupuncture is often used as an alternative treatment for cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and many other ailments. In the West, however, it is more commonly used to treat cancer and other chronic diseases such as arthritis and diabetes. It is also used to treat a variety of other diseases, from arthritis to heart problems. This form of traditional Chinese medicine involves an understanding of a very complex system of meridians for almost thousands of years of learning. The acupuncturist inserts a needle into the meridian to regulate the body and move it back to the state of homeostasis and well-being.

What Does Acupuncture Feel Like?

Some people experience mild pain, usually described as throbbing or tingling during an acupuncture session, but this experience is not defined as pain. The feeling is not dangerous or bad; however, in some cases, it may cause discomfort for a few days or weeks after the procedure. When people claim that they feel like their skin is carrying weight because they experience heavy throbbing and twitching, these are signs that you are reacting positively to the treatment. Sometimes thrombosis can occur, which is a burning sensation, but not everyone will experience it. Many patients report feeling calm and energetic during acupuncture treatment. Throbbing can be quite uncomfortable for a while, but you will feel very relaxed afterward.

Do Acupuncture Needles Hurt?

Forget about your definition of the word ‘needles’ if the term to you denotes pain because that is not what acupuncture has to offer.

Acupuncture needles are very different from conventional medical needles. When most people think of needles, they think of the ones used for vaccination or blood collection. But the needles used in acupuncture are different and are for other purposes, including pain relief, pain management, and pain reduction.

These needles are extremely thin and round at the edges so that they do not cut through the skin. Acupuncture needles are made of stainless steel that is usually not much bigger than a strand of hair. It is impossible for a tiny needle to weigh 100 times as much when it is only a few millimeters in diameter, let alone a thousand. These needles invade the tissue, targeting specific areas of your body to reduce pain. Many patients say they barely feel the needle used for acupuncture treatment and feel no pain at all. Acupuncture needles are usually pain-free due to the thick skin and muscles in the area, but some people may be more sensitive in certain areas.

What Are The Side Effects?

We have already established that acupuncture is not painful or harmful, but you might be wondering why it does not hurt and why it does not cause pain? Pain tolerance varies from person to person and can be due to a lot of factors specific to an individual’s condition and tolerance level.. Plus, the type of acupuncture treatment and the target area also affect how your body reacts to it.

Individuals who cannot tolerate the pain experienced during acupuncture, such as people with bleeding disorders, are more prone to pain than others. If you have this condition or any other condition that can affect the treatment process, let your acupuncturist or your doctor know so they cant help you better manage these issues or find you other treatments for your condition..

According to the World Health Organization, only 0.024% of patients suffer from severe side effects of acupuncture. It is extremely rare for patients to experience serious complications after acupuncture, and there should be no need to worry. Some common effects of acupuncture are headaches, dizziness, nausea, exhaustion, and muscle pain, but these are usually caused by a combination of other factors, not solely by acupuncture itself.

Sometimes acupuncture hurts during treatment, but many patients experience no pain during treatment and no side effects after treatment. The cause of painful acupuncture could be that the needle hits a blood vessel or nerve. In addition, painful acupuncture can be caused by the use of acupuncture needles that are usually wider than a strand of hair. This can happen if the acupuncturist uses a larger or a smaller needle than the ideal size. If you experience extreme pain after the acupuncture treatment, it might be due to the variation in the size of the needle rather than the treatment itself.

How to Prepare for Your Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture should be a relaxing and calming treatment. You should avoid taking an appointment during a strenuous or stressful day.

  • Avoid coffee and alcohol during acupuncture; these substances can imbalance the effect of the treatment.

  • Eat light at least two hours before the session; it never feels good to eat too much, and an empty stomach could also make you dizzy or dazed after acupuncture.

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and do not forget to let the energy (‘qi’ or ‘chi’) flow through your body.

What Should You Expect During Treatment?

Putting a needle under the skin may not sound like the best way to feel better, but that's exactly how acupuncture works. A licensed acupuncturist will work with you to develop a positive and effective treatment plan. The acupuncturist will ask you questions about your medical history and symptoms. This will allow the chiropractor to figure out if you have any imbalances in your body and the cause of your symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, and inflammation. Based on the test, the physician will select a suitable point to insert a needle into. This is called meridian, and it signifies that your pain or disorder is related to another underlying disease, such as an imbalance in the energy channels in your body. This imbalance causes pain, fatigue, inflammation, as well as other symptoms. The acupuncturist usually dims the light and plays quiet music to allow the patient to relax. The patient usually falls asleep during the treatment. Make sure you feel comfortable and it is helpful to get a better understanding of the meridians and what you can expect during and after treatment to keep you at ease during the whole process.

what to expect during acupuncture treatment

The first acupuncture session feels more intense than future treatments as certain energy points are activated for the first time and the pain reduces in intensity over time. Acupuncture releases endorphins into the body, which trigger positive, euphoric feelings, conveying feelings of peace and happiness. If the endorphins are released by acupuncture, pain sensations can be suppressed and bring much-needed relief. The pain and tingling sensation often causes a good feeling, and the positive effects of acupuncture gives the patient a pleasant and satisfying feeling.

Where Can I Get Treatment?

At Natural Care Chiropractic, Our Chiropractor Dr. Gopal has an in-depth knowledge and understanding of acupuncture, the diseases and symptoms it treats, as well as how and why it works. At our clinic, we also discuss the safety and the importance of choosing the right physician to ensure you get the best possible treatment and provider available.


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