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Does it hurt?

20 acupuncture needles inside the hub of a hypodermic needle

One of the most frequently asked questions about acupuncture is "does it hurt?" Sometimes people are referring to their pet and other times they are referring to whether I have had acupuncture and found it to be painful. Hopefully this post will clear up this common misconception.

The short answer? No. If I were to elaborate, it doesn't really hurt... I've definitely felt more pain after being bitten by a horse fly, stubbing my toe, cutting my finger- the list goes on. Acupuncture needles deliver a different type of sensation. I'm not going to lie and say that you don't feel anything- there can be a temporary period (we are talking less than a second) of discomfort. It is more of a tiny pinch than anything and can be followed by a tingling feeling or a feeling of tightness around the acupoint. Other than finding it beneficial to my health, one of the reasons I have had acupuncture is so that I can accurately describe the feeling to clients.


So, if I am inserting needles into your dog/cat/horse/giraffe, how is it possible that it doesn't hurt you ask? The needles that are used for acupuncture are different than those people typically think of. Needles used for vaccinations, blood collection, antibiotics, steroids, etc, etc are hypodermic needles. Hypodermic needles have a hub which connects to a syringe and allows a substance to flow through the needle and into the body (or out of the body and into the syringe).

Acupuncture needles are not hypodermic needles. They do not have any communication to the outside world once inserted into the skin. The top portion is not open to the environment and there is no way to inject or collect anything through the needle.

Hypodermic needle (left) and an acupuncture needle (right)


Now that we have discussed what acupuncture needles aren't, let's take a look at what they are... Needles used for acupuncture are tiny. I'm talking thinner than a piece of spaghetti tiny. Some rival a strand of hair in thickness. Acupuncture needles are sterile- the needles are individually packaged and sterile until the seal of that package is broken.

Varying sizes of acupuncture needles compared to a piece of pasta. Widest (highest gauge) on the left to thinnest on the right.

So there you have it folks- no, acupuncture doesn't hurt. In fact- most people and animals feel a sense of calm shortly after the start of a session. Questions? Comments? Feel free to leave them below or send me a message and we can discuss further!


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