Dr. Melissa Carr BSc (Kines), DrTCM, RAcAcupuncture

One of the first questions asked of anyone doing acupuncture is, “Does it hurt?” Even before they ask me, I tell every new patient before their treatment that acupuncture is not painful. There is often sensation—in Chinese it is called “de Qi”—but that sensation is sometimes described as numbness, aching, tingling, warmth, distension, heaviness, or lightness. The sensation can be local, it may radiate, it may be felt in a totally different location, or it might feel more of a general whole body shift. The most common description I hear is that acupuncture feels “weird, but not uncomfortable.” Some patients have some wonderful descriptors like, “ginger ale slippers” or “like water running.”

One of the best parts of getting acupuncture, is that almost all of my patients find acupuncture to be very relaxing, and most even fall asleep during treatment. Some even call it their “spa” time.

So, why doesn’t acupuncture hurt? This is because of both the size and the shape of the needles. They are so thin that ten to fifteen acupuncture needles can be placed in one hypodermic (injection) needle. They are also curved toward a precise point, making them less obtrusive to the body, so much so that many point entries are not felt.

If you have been avoiding acupuncture because of a fear of pain, know that you are not alone in your worries, but you have no need to fret. Every session is under your control, as I ask patients to give feedback about comfort, unless my patient has fallen asleep even before I’m finished with the needling (that has happened on a number of occasions). Acupuncture may be your solution to avoiding pain and enjoying some relaxation.

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