Acupuncture needles FAQs:
Here are the answers to some of the most asked questions in the clinic by patients. Hopefully, you will find them helpful and gain a better understanding of acupuncture.
1. What are the needles like?
Patients are often reassured to discover that acupuncture needles are very fine and thin as the diameter of one single hair. However, over 2000 years ago, needles were made from bamboo or stone. As the human civilization developed, iron, gold and silver were late r on used to make the needles. In the modern times, acupuncture needles are most commonly made from stainless steel which gives the needles certain important qualities, such as impossible to break, very flexible, and will not rust.
2. How are needles sterilized?
Acupuncturists always employ single use pre-sterilised disposable needles when treating patients. After each use, the needles need to be disposed in a sharp object box to ensure that no infection can be transmitted between patients and each patient is treated with the highest standard of care and cleanliness.
It is mandatory for all the qualified acupuncturists to receive professional training of impeccable hygiene standards when carrying out needles technique and abide by a stringent code of safe practice.
3. Do the needles hurt?
The simple answer to this most commonly asked question is that ‘No, it does not hurt’. What exactly does acupuncture feel during treatment then? A hundred patients will have a hundred answers to that question because different sensation can be felt depending on the patients’ conditions and which acupoints the needles are put in.
One patient said to us before that “The needles sensation is like a dull ache and sometimes there’s a pleasant feeling of release.” Most patients said that the needles didn’t bother them at all and there was no discomfort. Also some patients reported that sometimes they even felt nice and pleasant with the needles in. Even some patients commented that there was no sensation of the needles entering the body but they felt the needles when they were left in. A sensation of electric flow along the arms or legs was felt when the needles were inserted. The ‘electric flow’ feeling is what Traditional Chinese medicine calls ‘unblocking channels’.
Once the needles are inserted by acupuncturists to the correct depth the patient should feel a slight sensation as the needles contact the ‘Qi’, which is the process called ‘DeQi’ in Chinese language. DeQi is not unpleasant and is sometimes felt as a drawing sensation which the practitioner experiences as the needle being pulled ‘like catching a fish’. Its sensation can either be described as an ache, numbness, a tingling or a sensation of heat, which only lasts for a couple seconds. Very rarely that patient felt more sensation from the needles. If that happens it often indicates that there is more blockage of Qi.
4. How many needles are used at each treatment?
In general, six to twelve needles are used per treatment, but the number varies a lot according to the patient’s condition and the strength of Qi. The practitioner will also vary the number of needles according to the strength of patient’s constitution as in fewer needles needed if the constitution is fragile and more needles if the constitution is strong. If it’s a muscular problem, sometimes a larger number of needles may be used in a localized area to remove any obstruction to free the joint or inflammation.
Every visit to the Care Cure acupuncture clinic, the practitioners will have to examine the patients’ pulse and tongue and ask questions to track the progress of the treatment in order to decide how many needles and which acupoints the needles are inserted in.
5. How deep do the needles go?
The depth to which the acupuncturists insert a needle varies depending on patients’ size and the area being treated. The most common depths vary from a quarter to half an inch (around 6-13mm). The points on non-fleshy area of the body such as a toe, the needles only penetrate to only about one-tenth of an inch (approximately 2mm). On fleshy areas such as the buttocks, where points are commonly used for hip pain, the needles will go in deeper and can be inserted to at least one and a half inches (approximately 38mm). However, the amount of sensation felt is not linked with the depth of the points. Some points that are nearer the surface can create more sensation than ones deeper inside the body.
6. Will the needles make me bleed?
It is surprising to find that it is extremely unusual for acupuncture needles to draw blood during a treatment. It is often expected that any penetration of the skin will result in bleeding but the acupuncture needles are so thin that they won’t normally pierce blood vessels. On some rare occasions a small drop of blood is drawn and a tiny bruise can appear. This will have no detrimental effect on the treatment and is nothing to be worried about.
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