When speaking with people on the street about acupuncture, I often get questions about the needles or comments that people are afraid of needles. Let’s take a little time and discuss the needles that we use in acupuncture practice.
First of all, acupuncture needles are not like hypodermic needles. Acupuncture needles are very thin, and as many as 30 can fit into the opening of a hypodermic needle. Acupuncture needles are also flexible and solid.
Different sized needles are used on different parts of the body. Facial needles are especially thin, while needles used for trigger point therapy are slightly thicker. Needles that are used in the hips are longer than those used in the ears. I keep many types of needles on hand to use in appropriate circumstances. Some needles have plastic handles and others have metal handles. The metal ones are useful for needle-top moxa and also for hooking up to e-stim.
You have nerve endings on your skin so you might feel a tiny prick when the needle is inserted, but once it is in place, there should be no discomfort, although there may be a sensation of warmth or pressure. Many people even fall asleep with the needles in place.
The needles come in sterile packages and are single use only. After the needle is taken out, it is placed in a sharps container for disposal. It is never used on another person.
Still afraid of needles? That’s ok. I always work with every patient to make sure they are comfortable with their treatment. Also, there are many other tools that can be used, such as moxibustion, cupping, gua sha, shonishin, and even more. I will describe all of those in future blog posts, so stay tuned!