Does it hurt? That is probably the most common question in people’s minds, whether they ask it or not. Some people are quite nervous of needles, others are not terribly worried about them. Acupuncture needles are extremely fine, especially compared to the hypodermic needles which are used to inject a substance into the body. A hypodermic needle is a fine tube, while an acupuncture needle is a fine filament. It does not introduce any other substance into the body. With one or two exceptions, I have found that most people can handle the different types of sensations induced by acupuncture, and do not describe them as painful. Nevertheless, although rare, there are some people who are hypersensitive and cannot tolerate the pain of acupuncture, I would offer anyone who is worried about this a free trial to experience one or two needles first, and then decide whether to proceed.
When the needles are inserted, a traditionally trained acupuncturist will endeavour to obtain a sensation which signals the “arrival” of qi at the needle. Such sensations are rarely painful, because they occur at an insertion level much deeper than the vast majority of nerve endings, which are found in the uppermost levels of the skin. However, they can be experienced as being a bit peculiar, such as an itch, a feeling of fullness or a dullish achiness at the insertion point.
Once the needles are in place, most people report deep feelings of relaxation. Falling asleep is not uncommon.