The Needles in Acupuncture
Don’t Let Needles Get in the Way of Acupuncture
It’s perfectly natural to feel a little apprehension when embarking on a new complementary therapy. When it comes to having acupuncture, we find most people enjoy the experience, whereas others need a little reassurance to ease into their first session. You might think that if you have a needle phobia or maybe even some mild anxiety about your first treatment that this would stop you from having a treatment. However, many people with a fear of needles still come for acupuncture and are able to experience (and even enjoy) a session. Especially when they see the profound benefits during and after a treatment.
The Difference: Acupuncture vs. Hypodermic Needles
(Hint, there’s a big difference)
One thing we always emphasise to clients is that acupuncture needles are completely different to hypodermic needles. The hypodermic needles medical professionals use are a hollow tube that contains fluid, whereas acupuncture needles are very different. Acupuncture needles are made from medical grade stainless steel, are solid, and much smaller and finer.
Acupuncture needles come in different gauges (diameter) and lengths and are generally a lot smaller than an injection needle, so you don't feel anywhere near as much. We also use a plastic guide tube to facilitate the insertion, which gently presses on the skin to create a distraction from any discomfort as the needle is gently inserted. We’ve also find that it makes a difference to use high-quality needles for smoother, easier insertion (so that’s what we always use).
It's worth noting that the average gauge of a hypodermic needle used for injections is 25 mm to 38 mm, depending on the adult weight. At Treat, the average needle gauge we use is 0.18 mm. Check out the difference in size! AS you’d expect, this also creates a big difference in sensation and pain. The needles we use are single-use sterilised ones and exceed industry standards for quality.
Sensations to Expect
There are a range of different sensations you might experience during an acupuncture session, and each point might feel slightly different. When the needle first enters the skin you might feel a mild tingle, a pressure or a dull ache – this is perfectly normal – and often a good sign. If at any point you feel uncomfortable with the sensation, please do tell you acupuncturist and we can adjust the needle slightly for you. And actually, usually what occurs is that as soon as the needles are inserted, you start to relax.
Ways to Overcome Apprehensions Around Needles
If you have any apprehensions about acupuncture, and specifically about needles, please do let us know as there are a number of techniques and approaches we can use…
Grading the Treatment: We can start the treatment very slowly and by touching the acupressure points with a finger and then the lid of ballpoint pen, for example. We can slowly progress until we use minimal fine needles, checking in with you as we go.
Fear of the unknown: Often, we find that many people aren’t afraid of needles but it’s the unknown they’re worried about. It helps to know what is happening during a treatment. We talk to our new patients so they know what to expect at each stage of the treatment. This helps you to relax and feel more comfortable. We always use a minimal amount of needles to get the biggest difference in your wellbeing and health.
Clarity: Before using each needle, we will tell you where the needle is going to be placed. More often than not, you won’t actually see the needles being inserted or even once they are in during treatment. You’ll be lying down or reclined with your eyes closed – and you’re very welcome to bring in your headphones and listen to some music or a podcast during your treatment.
Finding Alternatives: If there is a part of your body that you would rather avoid, please do let us know and we can find alternative points for you. At any point, if a needle is uncomfortable, we can remove or reposition it. You’ll be completely in control during a session. You may find that after a couple of sessions that you start to develop your own preferred points – do let us know, we’re happy to include these points again for you.
Still not convinced?
If you’re thinking, hmm, I’m still not sure… don’t worry, we do have other ways and means. Acupuncturists stimulate certain areas on the body to create a healing response. We can work in different ways to bring about positive change. Firstly, we can try Chinese cupping or using an infra-red heat lamp. None of these treatments use needles! We can also use a combination of cupping and acupuncture.
We can also select less sensitive places on the body to needle as well as using silicone coated needles and go down to a gauge of 0.12 mm in diameter, which will get a sensation but will feel very mild.
We can go slowly as we insert and gather feedback from the patient as we go, adjusting if needed. We can also stay with the client during the whole session, until all the needles are removed.
Either way, we can work with the individual to support your needs. We always find a way to help our clients feel at ease.
Treat is a Norwich-based Health & Wellbeing Clinic. Founder and acupuncturist - Rebecca Geanty - started Norwich Acupuncture Rooms in 2011. Offering a cross section of therapies and a community multi-bed clinic.
In January 2022 Rebecca and her business partner David renovated the old Dyers Arm pub on Lawson Road in NR3. Today Treat therapists offer over 50 different health and wellbeing therapies, beauty and spa services.
To book an acupuncture treatment press here: