This is the most common question I get as an acupuncturist. The answer is… well, sometimes. The thin, flexible acupuncture needle is inserted just beneath the skin’s surface. Sensations vary by person from a dull ache to a tingling sensation. Any pain felt during treatment is momentary. Acupuncture needles are solid and slender — only slightly thicker than a human hair. Only the finest quality, stainless steel, pre-sterilized, disposable needles are used during treatment. When patients ask, “Is this one going it hurt?” I often say maybe. If I were to warn someone that a point is going to hurt, I rob them of the possibility that it won’t. This also distracts from treatment and shifts their focus to something irrelevant.

The truth is that Acupuncture does hurt a little at times. When it does, the pain lasts for about three seconds. The sensation then dissipates. The feeling is similar to pinching a tiny bit of skin between the nails of your thumb and forefinger.

Is this little pain worth it? I declare it is. People come to me for weekly treatment because it works. Each treatment includes about forty minutes of rest time on the table. On average, I use anywhere from four to twelve needles in a treatment. If you find a point painful, it is likely to be temporary—just about three seconds per point. Considering that many patients come to me for pain management and acupuncture can help, this small and temporary pain is completely negligible. Remember that these seconds of discomfort are only a possibility and they are broken up and coordinated with the patient’s own exhale, thus minimizing pain. Some people feel no pain at all, but only a sensation beyond the initial insertion (the qi sensation or dull ache I mentioned earlier). It is most important that you hold open the possibility that though there may be discomfort, this is not always a negative thing. The discomfort is for a greater purpose.