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Is Acupuncture Painful: Things to Know about the Treatment

January 26, 2023

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine using thin needles. The needles are inserted into certain points in the skin to treat certain conditions with minimal discomfort.

First-timers to the treatment often tend to ask, “is acupuncture painful?” Certain cases prove that the treatment is most painful for first-timers—that’s because the acupuncture points are activated for the first time. The sensation they will feel during the treatment is normal because of the nature of the procedure. 

Whether it’s your first time or you’re just curious, we’ll teach you what you need to know about this ancient Chinese therapy spreading worldwide.

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is based on the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theory that the body has a natural energy called Qi (pronounced “chee”) that flows through channels called meridians. According to this theory, illness and pain occur when the flow of Qi is blocked or imbalanced. 

The treatment is said to correct imbalances and restore Qi’s flow, promoting healing and reducing pain and discomfort. But despite being a century-old Chinese medical practice, it is still treated as complementary and alternative medicine, and its efficacy and safety are still currently being researched.

Today, acupuncture is used to treat a wide range of health conditions, including chronic pain, headaches, menstrual cramps, infertility, and the side effects of chemotherapy. Some people also use acupuncture for asthma, depression, and anxiety. For your safety, it’s important that a licensed therapist performs the acupuncture on you.

Benefits of Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture provides several amazing benefits. Proof of it is that it’s becoming more and more popular these days. Here are a few known conditions the treatment provides relief for:

Various body pains. Acupuncture is often used to relieve chronic pain, including back and neck pains and osteoarthritis.

Headaches and migraines. The treatment may tone down the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines.

Stress, anxiety, and depression. It may help reduce stress as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Insomnia. Acupuncture helps improve sleep quality and reduce symptoms of insomnia.

Nausea and vomiting: It may help reduce nausea and vomiting caused by conditions such as morning sickness or as a result of chemotherapy.

Infertility. The treatment may help improve the chances of conception, and can be used as adjunctive therapy in assisted reproduction procedures.

Women’s health: Acupuncture may help relieve symptoms of menstrual cramps, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and menopause.

Dermatological conditions: It may help reduce the symptoms of conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

How Does Acupuncture Feel?

Getting back to the question of if acupuncture is painful, here’s how the procedure is done and what it feels like to most patients. 

Acupuncture needles are very thin, so a patient can expect minimal discomfort when they are inserted into the skin. The sensation when the needles are inserted varies depending on the individual, the points in the body where they’re inserted, and the technique. Some patients feel a slight pinch when the needles are inserted, but it’s usually brief and quickly subsides.

After insertion, some patients report a slight tingling at injection points. The sensation is called “de qi,” a positive sign that the needles are working. In addition, some patients often feel a mildly warm or moderately heavy sensation around these points.

On the other hand, there are other patients who say they felt relaxed, and even fell asleep during the treatment. The procedure often lasts between twenty minutes to one hour.

What to Look for in an Acupuncture Center

The best people to answer whether or not acupuncture is painful would be the acupuncture specialists working in treatment clinics. Certified clinics have licensed therapists with significant years of experience to ensure that their clients get the best experience possible. 

Here are some things you need to look at when looking for an acupuncture center: 

  • Look for a practitioner with a certification from NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) or the state regulatory board where the practitioner operates. These certifications indicate that the practitioner has met certain education standards and has passed an exam.
  • Ask the practitioner about their education and experience in treating your specific condition.
  • Inquire about the sterilization protocols used by the center, and if they follow standards recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health organizations.
  • Make sure to feel comfortable with the practitioner. It’s important to find someone you feel comfortable discussing your health concerns with.
  • Look for a center that provides a clean, peaceful and professional environment.
  • Ask about any follow-up care, if any, and for recommendations for self-care after the treatment.
  • Inquire about the practitioner’s approach. Are they working with a holistic approach or only to treat symptoms?
  • Find out if the center accepts insurance.
  • Look for patient testimonials, which can be found on the practitioner’s website or through word-of-mouth recommendations.

The Bottom Line

“Is acupuncture painful?” At the end of the day, it varies with each individual. The treatment would generally involve minimal pain, but the benefits far outweigh any discomfort during the procedure. If you’re planning to undergo an acupuncture treatment, look for a licensed practitioner with complete certifications to ensure best practices are observed, and talk to your doctor before you take the procedure. 
If you’re looking for an acupuncturist in Siesta Key that you can trust, contact us at Spa Experience Siesta Key. We’ll help you get rid of stress and provide you with the necessary means for relaxation.