So, you have been avoiding acupuncture because of the fear of needles. When you think of acupuncture, you probably picture your blood drawn. Sizeable needle, tourniquet on your arm, the needle searching your vein… urgh, ouch, right?
Acupuncture is nothing like it, not even close, not even on the same planet. If you have to compare it with something, then compare it to all the numerous times when you had a needle stuck in your body and you didn’t even feel it!
“What is he talking about? When did I have a needle stuck in me and without me feeling it?”
It usually happens when you are enjoying a beautiful summer day outside. Suddenly, a red, itchy welt raises up on your skin. You were bit by mosquito and didn’t even feel it until it was gone! The itch is not important for this explanation – it came because of mosquito saliva. The important part is that you did not feel the actual bite, when she (all biting mosquitoes are females) stuck its needle-like proboscis under your skin!
The secret – mosquito proboscis is very thin. That’s why you don’t feel it at all. The rule of thumb is –thinner the needle, less you feel it. Just for comparison, average blood test needle is about 0.8 millimeter (0.0315 inch) in diameter. The average acupuncture needle is 4 times thinner, about 0.2 millimeter (0.00787 inch). The average mosquito proboscis is 3 times thinner than the acupuncture needle – 0.06 millimeter (0.00236 inches). Here is how they compare:
|Needle type||Millimeters||Inches||Compare to other needles|
|Blood test||0.80||0.03150||4 acupuncture needles, 13 mosquito proboscises|
|Acupuncture||0.20||0.00787||3 mosquito proboscises|
|Mosquito proboscis (also – normal human hair)||0.06||0.00236|
You can see that acupuncture needles are closer to mosquito proboscis than to the blood test needle. So, what does it mean for you and what will you feel during the acupuncture? You pretty much feel nothing when the needle is inserted in you body, arms and legs. You may feel a minor pinch-like feeling when a needle is inserted in your hand, foot, or ear. I am the real wuss, so believe me when I say that it is nothing to worry about. To take even that pinch away, some acupuncturists tell patients to exhale when they insert the needle in the extremities. For whatever reason it completely takes care of any pinch sensations that may be there.
How about the safety of the acupuncture needles? First, as it was mentioned, they are pretty thin. What kind of damage can a human hair cause? But in addition to that acupuncturists must take lots of anatomy to make sure they know where and how deep they can insert needles. Also, there is a reason why acupuncturists spend years studying specific points, and why all acupuncture atlases include tendons and muscles. Acupuncture practitioners must have Master degree, and they spend much of their study time learning where to put the needles! Needles are disposable, so you are in safe hands.
So, please don’t let the baseless fear of needles stop you (of your loved ones) from trying acupuncture. It is a safe and relatively inexpensive method of dealing with many ailments, from migraines and pain to allergies and fertility.
Contact practitioner Julia Shengaout for more information.