One of the things that puts many people off trying acupuncture is the fear of needles. However, acupuncture needles are much finer than injection needles and that means that acupuncture usually does not hurt.
But sometimes, one acupuncture point can be more uncomfortable than the rest. So, why do some acupuncture points hurt more than others? There are several possible explanations for this.
What Does Acupuncture Feel Like?
Most acupuncturists will tell you that acupuncture does not hurt. However, you may feel some strange sensations in your body when having an acupuncture treatment. When the needle is first inserted, you might feel a sharp scratch, but this usually only lasts for a second. After this, you might feel a tingling, throbbing, or warm sensation, or a dull ache. This is actually seen as a good sign as it indicates that changes are happening within your body and the treatment is having some effect.
Although most of the time acupuncture is enjoyable rather than uncomfortable, on the odd occasion a point may feel especially painful. Let’s look at why some acupuncture points hurt more than others.
Why do Some Acupuncture Points Hurt More than Others?
There are a number of reasons why some acupuncture points are more painful than others. These include the following:
Some points are located nearer to nerve endings than others and for this reason, they are more likely to be painful when a needle is inserted. For example, points on the abdomen and back tend to cause very little in the way of sensation. Conversely, points on the hands and feet can be much more sensitive and may hurt more than others.
Acupuncture should not be painful when carried out by a skilled practitioner. However, if somebody is performing acupuncture without the right training, they might miss an acupuncture point and hit a nerve. Of course, this is extremely painful. An unskilled acupuncturist might also have a bad technique when it comes to putting the needles in, which can also result in pain.
This is why it is essential that you only use an acupuncturist who has completed sufficient training and has all the skills they need to perform acupuncture without causing pain. You can find a qualified practitioner using the NCCAOM database.
There are many different types of needles and not all are created equal. Some are low-quality and that increases the chances of a painful treatment. Some needles, on the other hand are designed to keep pain to a minimum. They may be especially fine or have a special coating which helps them to be inserted more smoothly.
If you need to have acupuncture in a sensitive area and find it painful, ask your acupuncturist whether they have any finer needles you could try.
Some acupuncturists believe that a point becomes painful when it is active, meaning that something is going on in that area. Although this theory is unproven, acupuncturists have used active points as a diagnostic tool for centuries. By pressing various points to see whether they are tender, they can assess which are the most active and in need of attention.
What Should I do if Acupuncture is Painful?
Acupuncture should be an enjoyable experience and pain is a sign that something is not quite right. Although it is normal to feel some unusual sensations during an acupuncture treatment, it should never hurt.
If you ever feel uncomfortable during acupuncture, tell your provider straight away so that they can adjust their treatment. Acupuncture is all about relaxation and healing and is not a case of ‘no pain, no gain.’