Most of the time, the insertion of an acupuncture needle causes a slight pinching sensation, much like a mosquito bite. This sensation usually lasts less than a minute, and then the needle is not painful at all. It is difficult to explain exactly what an acupuncture sensation is like, because people experience it differently. There can be a tingling sensation, heat, numbness, an electrical “zing,” a lifting or spreading sensation, heaviness, and others. If a needle continues to hurt after insertion, it may be twisted around a muscle fiber. In that case, tell the acupuncturist and he will reposition the needle and relieve the pain. People who are afraid of needles because of the pain of hypodermic needles are usually pleasantly surprised by how mild the acupuncture needle sensation is.
Acupuncture needles are extremely safe. They are factory-sterilized and placed in sterile packets. They are used once and then disposed of. There is virtually no chance of infection. Professional acupuncturists are trained in safe needle insertion and are always aware of the body structures lying below the skin surface.