Does Acupuncture Hurt?

Is Acupuncture Painful?

Many people who’ve never had acupuncture treatment think the process would be painful or torturous. Some just don’t want to be a biological pin cushion. At the very least most people don’t want to feel uncomfortable.


So how should you REALLY feel during acupuncture? Most people say receiving acupuncture makes them “feel calm and sleepy.” The vast majority of people actually fall asleep and it is quite safe to do so. Some people will get either a sensation of heaviness while others may even feel “lighter” during the treatment. You should expect a similar experience.

There can be many reasons why acupuncture causes people to sleep like logs, but the leading theory is that acupuncture causes the body to produce endorphins.

Endorphins are compounds that are essentially morphine produced by your own body. “endogenous” + “morphine” = “Endo-rphine” That high feeling you get from extreme exercise is caused by this awesome drug your body produces called endorphins combine those with a bed and those endorphins can put some “zzzz”s in your life.


To celebrate integration of western and eastern medicine China made a mailer stamp of the first open heart surgery that used acupuncture instead of drugs to numb the pain enough to do a surgery.  There is no way the body could produce enough of it’s own endorphins to numb that kind of pain. Endorphin production is only part of the way acupuncture works.

When the needle goes in you should feel the sensation of pressure or warmth. There is the possibility that the needle can go through a sweat gland or hair follicle. If that happens the sensation may feel similar to a snip by a rubber band.

The needling done by non-acupuncturists, perhaps performing “Dry Needling”, may really hurt. The type of acupuncture, called trigger point needling, is done on the motor neurons of muscle bellies and is only ever used as a last resort by skilled acupuncturists. If you’ve ever been offered “Dry Needling”, please realize it’s rapidly becoming illegal in many states across the country.  In the Rapid Recovery Resource there is an entire chapter dedicated to dangerous recovery myths, “Dry Needling” is one of them.