If you’ve never had acupuncture it may be reassuring to know that an acupuncture needle is much thinner than your typical hypodermic needle used to give injections. The pain from hypodermic needles is mainly caused by the fact that they are wide in order to push a medication into your veins. Thankfully, acupuncture needles are very thin, slightly thicker than a strand of hair. In my clinics I use Korean and Japanese needles which are thinner and designed to be very pain-free.
The acupuncturist can guide your breathing. This technique helps to reduce any potential pain sensation. The acupuncturist can prompt you to inhale then as the needle is inserted you will exhale.
Some people are more sensitive to needles than others. People who have thin constitutions tend to have more sensitivity. Women during their menstrual cycle tend to have more awareness and sensitivity to their bodies in general. Generally acupuncture isn’t painful however if there’s a lot of qi stagnation along a channel, there may be points along that channel that are more sensitive. This sensitivity will clear with treatment as acupuncture will normalize the qi flow.
Additionally, there are types of non-insertive acupuncture such as the use of ion pumping cords which can also be taped to the acupoints to achieve a similar effect depending on the condition. The ion-pumping cord treatment is a type of electrical acupuncture that uses the body’s own electrical currents by moving the negative ions across the wire from a point of excess energy to a point of deficient energy thus creating a more balanced energy flow and reduction of pain. I have used this type of treatment often with patients who have been in a motor vehicle accident and sustained a whiplash type of injury with backache, neck pain, headaches, etc.