Does Acupuncture Hurt?

Nervous about acupuncture? You’re not alone! Fear of pain from acupuncture is the most common reason that people are nervous about trying it.

The truth is, acupuncture is relatively painless.

Most people who have never had acupuncture don’t realize how thin acupuncture needles are.  Acupuncture is not a “shot” or medical injection: acupuncture needles are very small and fine- about the thickness of a cat’s whisker. A skilled acupuncturist is very gentle and most of the time you won’t even feel the needles. Depending on the area of the body and the person, you may experience minor discomfort when the needle is first inserted, a brief pin prick or pinching sensation as the needle touches the surface of the skin.

Once the needles are in place, you will be left to relax with the needles in. That’s right, acupuncture can actually be a deeply relaxing, pleasant experience. Some of people even use their appointment as an opportunity to nap!

Acupuncture is safe.

Not only that, but acupuncture is very safe with minimal side effects when performed by a trained Acupuncturist. In a recent study on acupuncture safety, the number and types of adverse events were compiled from over 229,000 acupuncture patients in Germany. The most common side effects were minor bleeding or bruising in 6% of patients, or pain at the site of the needle in 2% of patients. Compared to the common side effects of drugs to stop pain like constipation, nausea or vomiting, acupuncture is a safe and effective choice, often more safe than many conventional medications.

So what does acupuncture feel like?

While acupuncture usually does not hurt, it can cause other sensations. People often describe these sensations as a heavy or achy feeling, a tingling or electric feeling, or a warm sensation. Usually these sensations are a sign that the acupuncture is working and that we are activating the point to produce a healing effect. These sensations are typically very mild. To read more about them please read our article, What Does Acupuncture Feel Like?

Acupuncture should not be painful. Sometimes it happens that an acupuncture needle causes a sharp or burning sensation. This is usually a sign that the acupuncture needle has been placed improperly and needs adjusting. It is not a cause for concern- but it is important to let your acupuncturist know so that they can make adjustments to ensure you are comfortable and relaxed during treatment.

If you ever feel any discomfort, don’t hesitate to tell your Acupuncturist. A skilled Acupuncturist is very good at minimizing discomfort so that you can have a relaxed and enjoyable experience and discover the incredible benefits of acupuncture!

Okanagan Acupuncture Centre is located downtown Kelowna at 1625 Ellis St.


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  1. […] acupuncture usually does not hurt, it can cause other sensations. Usually these sensations are a sign that the acupuncture is working […]

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