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Jun 26

Why Acupuncture Doesn’t Hurt

One of the first questions I often get when I tell people that I do acupuncture is “doesn’t it hurt?”. My answer is “no” and you can find out why below.

First of all, the size of the needles are much thinner than what we are used to going to a clinic to have our blood taken or to the doctor’s surgery for a vaccination. The acupuncture needles are six to ten times thinner than one of those needles. Smaller needles, less pain.

Secondly, the acupuncture needles used at the Health in Flow Chinese Medicine clinic are very good quality. You can see the difference in quality from a sample of the electron microscope images from a study conducted by RMIT  ( The smoothness and sharpness of the needles mean that the pain fibres of the nerves receive less stimulation, and hence, less pain.

Electron Microscope Image of Poor Quality Acupuncture Needle

Electron Microscope Image of Lower Quality Acupuncture Needle

Electron Microscope Image of High Quality Acupuncture Needle

Electron Microscope Image of Higher Quality Acupuncture Needle

Thirdly, the velocity at which a skilled acupuncturist inserts a needle is so high that it doesn’t much activate the superficial  nerve fibres for pain. Depending on the location of the point, you may feel a tiny pin prick or not much at all. After insertion, a sensation referred as “De Qi” in Chinese Medicine is often elicited. This feeling can vary and can be described as: aching; soreness; pressure; and sometimes as tingling; numbness; heaviness; warmth; and coolness. They really are sensations, rather than pain!

If you’ve been avoiding acupuncture because of a needle phobia, rest assured that what you are imagining is much worse than the reality. I’ve had many needle phobic clients who I now dub as “advanced acupuncture clients” who happily receive acupuncture needles in never before considered places such as their face, ears and scalp!