When people new to an acupuncture treatment come into my clinic the first questions almost always are:

“How big are the needles?” and

“Will it hurt?”

 People think the bigger the needle the more pain. This is not true.

Also they often don’t realise that needles also come in different widths as well as different lengths. A thicker needle could cause more pain but when we’re dealing with such thin needles, it’s very unlikely that any pain will result.

 The sensation people feel when a needle is inserted is not nerve pain but De Qi. De Qi is like a “buzzy” feeling that lasts for a split second. If it lasts any longer then it is a nerve pain! If this is the case then the acupuncturist will remove or rearrange the needle.

“de Qi” is the term used for the sensation felt when an acupuncturist reaches the level of “Qi” in the body. This sensation may feel like distention or throbbing or an electrical impulse in the area of the acupuncture point being addressed. Often the sensation radiates down the meridian being addressed.

I think of De Qi as the “bullseye” when I do acupuncture. It means that the correct acupuncture point has been located. On every meridian there are acupuncture points. De Qi is the difference between sticking a needle randomly into a point on the body and actually locating a genuine acupuncture point on a meridian.

I think most people struggle with how small acupuncture needles really are. This is because they never come across them in their normal everyday life.

 People almost all have had an injection or have had blood taken at some stage in their lives. This means they have encountered a syringe needle. There is no comparison between one of these and an acupuncture needle – they are very large compared to our tiny acupuncture needles.

The next thing down is a sewing needle. These vary in size. They have to be a certain size though because at the end of the day you have to able to get some thread through the eye of the needle. These too are a lot bigger than acupuncture needles.

 Finally there are pins. These are the most similar to acupuncture needles. However they are still many times the width of an acupuncture needle.

 Acupuncture needles need to be strong and light.

 The length and width used, vary, depending on the location they’re used.

Most acupuncturists will have a variety of needles. However some don’t – instead they will vary the depth they put the needle in.

The exception is the face. The needles we use for cosmetic acupuncture are the finest needles that we have. The needles that go into the face will never be the same ones used for someone’s body.

Also an acupuncturist must take into account body size. When treating the torso of a thin person you would never use the same length of a needle as for someone more robust or muscular. If an acupuncturist doesn’t have the shorter needle they will ensure the depth the needle is inserted, is less.

 Acupuncturists as part of their training, must learn where all the vital organs, arteries, blood vessels, tendons etc are. We are trained never to risk the health of a client by going too deep with a needle or needling in an area where we could potentially do damage.


 Please have a look at the photo that accompanies this article.

I hope it will ease your mind about the size of acupuncture needles.  I would like to thank the Acupuncture Council of Ireland for passing this photo on to me. When coming for a treatment you shouldn’t be worried about big needles and should be looking forward to a relaxing healing experience.  I hope my information will help you look forward to the acupuncture treatments.

 Take care,


Want to know more? – please visit my website theacuzone.com