A common assumption about acupuncture is that it hurts. You are, after all, getting stuck with needles. Fear of pain from acupuncture needles is one of the most common reasons why people do not try acupuncture. Often, to the patient’s surprise, acupuncture usually does not hurt.
The majority of the time, the acupuncture needles is inserted and you will not feel anything. Sometimes you could, but should not feel a sharpness when the needle is inserted. If you feel sharpness beyond the level of a mild mosquito bite, please tell your acupuncturist, so he/she can adjust the needle or simply remove the needle.
The majority of patients do feels something and that something isn’t sharpness. Here are the five most common descriptions of how acupuncture feels:
- Heavy: Feels like a weight is being placed on the area where the needle was inserted. Sometimes this feeling of heaviness expands, spreading throughout the area where the needle was inserted. This heaviness is calming rather than oppressive feeling.
- Achy: Along with heaviness, an achy sensation can occur, it usually dissipates after a few seconds, but occasionally you can feel the achiness and possible a slight throbbing throughout the treatment. This is normal but it can be intense, if it feels too strong, tell your acupuncturists, so he/she can make an adjustment.
- Tingly: Acupuncture can cause tingling at the needling insertion site as well as throughout the body. Sometimes this happens immediately upon needle insertion and other times happen while you’re resting with needles.
- Warm: A spreading sensation of warmth around the needle insertion site and sometimes can radiate outward beyond the needle insertion site. This typically occurs a minute or two after the needle is inserted. It is a pleasant feeling, like internal heating pads.
- Electric: The needling of certain acupuncture points can feel almost like you’re being shocked or zapped. It’s usually a surprising, traveling jolt that quickly disappears.
If acupuncture causes you to feel something other than these five sensations—or nothing at all—that’s okay, too. These are just the sensations that occur most often.