Why do we go to the doctor? Because we are in pain. Traditionally, the art of Acupuncture is to insert the needles, (I call them little cat whiskers) without any pain. The last thing you want from a medical practitioner is for someone to produce more pain than what you are already experiencing. My slogan and credo is: “NO-PAIN, GAIN.”
Acupuncture can be administered pain-free contrary to what most people have experienced with needling. Most people don’t even feel the insertion. The patient’s response usually is: “Did the needle go in yet?” These “little healing sticks”, a term I use for patients that have to have their children in the room while being treated, are generally inserted only 1-3mm below the surface of the skin. Three millimeters is no more than a 16th of an inch. The needle diameter range varies only slightly from .16mm-.12mm or 0.0047-0.0137th of an inch. Now that is really thin. The needles are stainless steel for the most part unless an Acupuncturist uses Copper, Silver or Gold needles for highly specific therapeutic techniques. All needles are disposable after a “one-time” use. The needles are coated with a thin layer of silicon for an even smoother insertion. In addition, the Acupuncturist uses a guide-tube that touches the surface of the skin before the needle is inserted. The guide-tube gently stretches the skin surface to make it taught. Imagine holding a piece of plastic wrap loosely and trying to make a hole in it. It would be difficult to make a small pinhole in it because of the wrinkles and uneven depressions. If the plastic wrap is held tight, the needle quickly goes through the smooth surface without any obstructions. In other words, the needle will not get tangled in any excess skin fold or hair.
Why am I getting into such detail about needling pain-free? Pain-free needling technique classes are held regularly around the country. I just spent the past weekend in a 16 hour seminar learning and practicing very refined pain-free Acupuncture techniques with my Professional Acupuncturist peers. Acupuncture is a very “attention to detail” healing craft, with very specific techniques that must be learned and practiced regularly to perfect the skills of needling. The Japanese reference the detail and elegance of “The Tea Ceremony” as an analogy. Every moment from when the person is greeted to the time a person is served, to the moment a person is kindly excused is executed with acute precision. I like to think of the highly trained professional concert musician or the highly refined Olympic athlete training when I practice needling. The task must be repeated many times if not thousands of time to get it right. Yes, “practice makes perfect”. Needling is pain free with the proper attention and intention.