What does acupuncture and dry needling feel like? 2



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“What does acupuncture and dry needling feel like?”

On a weekly basis I end up answering the same question, what does this acupuncture and dry needling feel like and is it painful? A common myth about acupuncture is that it hurts. Often to the amazement of those who try it, acupuncture usually does not hurt. No pain, though, does not mean no sensation.

In acupuncture, this sensation is called de qi and it means it’s working! However, during a dry needling session the aim of treatment is to release a muscle by inserting it into a trigger point (that painful knot in your muscle!). This causes a local twitch response, which most people just describe as a strange sensation. For more information on dry needling click here

When an acupuncture needle gets inserted, if you feel sharpness beyond the level of a mild mosquito bite, tell your acupuncturist. He or she may try needling the point again, or may simply remove the needle if the area has become sensitive.

A feeling of sharpness from an acupuncture needle occasionally happens; it’s nothing to worry about. However, acupuncture should be a comfortable experience.

So what does acupuncture actually feel like. Below is five of the most common feelings:

1. Heavy

Sometimes this feeling of heaviness expands, spreading throughout the body part where the needle was placed.

2. Achy

Along with heaviness, an achy sensation can occur at the needling site. It usually dissipates after a few seconds, but occasionally a point will ache or even throb slightly throughout the treatment.

3. Electric

The needling of certain acupuncture points can feel almost like an electric shock!

4. Tingly

Acupuncture points can cause tingling at the needling site as well as throughout the body. I have heard clients describe this like a flow of powerful water running down her leg.

5. Warm

A deep warmth can sometimes be felt at the insertion point. This can create a more intense feeling of heat expanding throughout a meridian point.

So there you have it, give needling a go! It’s never that bad! Plus it’s likely to help whatever ailment you have. 

Have you tried 

Andrew Ross

Andrew Ross is owner at Go Go Physio, a mobile physiotherapy business in Sydney. He has a special interest in arthritis, hip/groin pain and acupuncture. www.gogophysio.com.au

  1. I was told I had to have two shoulder reconstructions – saw the specialist who said “Not sure what I’ll be doing until I go in” – so I said “You’re NOT going in until you know what you are doing!” I also have friends who are on their second and third shoulder reconstructions, they don’t always work. So I went off to a physio for some pain relief, had dry needling, and at the moment I won’t be needing the operation, all pain is gone, all movement restored. And it DID NOT hurt at all! I’m a fan, highly recommend it.

  2. I have used acupuncture for many different reasons over about 35 years. I love it, it works, it doesn’t hurt. My children have also been treated, and it has worked for them too. My father used it at least 60 years ago, when all other medical help had failed him, for relief of shingles pain. Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it. It’s calming, relaxing, and best of all – the pain goes away.

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