Does acupuncture hurt?

Generally speaking, the insertion of acupuncture needles is fairly painless. You may feel a small pinch with insertion that lasts about a second and then subsides. As the needle is manipulated, you may feel numbness, tingling, heaviness or soreness at the site of insertion for a few seconds. These sensations are considered a favorable part of the treatment and indicate that the needle has promoted a healing reaction in the body. Shortly after insertion and manipulation, most people feel extremely relaxed and may even fall asleep. Needles are usually retained anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes giving you the time to relax, unwind and de-stress. Healing occurs when the body and mind are peaceful.

Still not convinced? OK, here are some facts about acupuncture needles which might help put your mind at ease:


Acupuncture needles are thin and flexible as this picture illustrates:



What happens during my first treatment?

Typically, your first treatment is about an hour and a half long so that a detailed medical history can be obtained. You will be asked questions not only about your main complaint, but also about your health in general. Your pulses will be taken and your tongue viewed to further assess your condition. A physical exam may also be done to locate areas of weakness and pain in the body. Your first acupuncture treatment will then be performed and you will spend 20 to 30 minutes resting on the treatment table. At the conclusion of your treatment, an initial report of findings will be provided and you will be given a recommendation for treatment options. Any treatment thereafter will be one hour long and will consist of a quick follow up discussion, pulse diagnosis and needle insertion (10 to 15 minutes) and you will rest on the treatment table for 20 to 45 minutes. Also, it is really important to eat something at least two hours before your appointment as it is not a good idea to get a treatment on an empty stomach.

How many treatments will I need?

The length, number and frequency of treatments varies from person to person and depends on many factors such as the type of condition being treated, your age, the condition of your health and how you respond to acupuncture. Acupuncture and herbs are therapeutic modalities which require multiple treatments. Since the process is natural, treatment is gentle and gradual.

For an acute condition such as a sprain or common cold, sometimes one or two treatments are all that is necessary. If a condition is more chronic or if your overall health is poor, several treatments may be necessary. Many people come in initially for two to three treatments per week and eventually move to one treatment per week during  Symptom Relief and Corrective Care .  It is important to continue treatments (corrective care) even after your symptoms are relieved because if the root cause is not addressed, the symptoms could return.

How many needles are used?

As few as two or as many as twelve or more needles may be inserted into various points along the body. The needles, which are hair-thin, flexible and made of stainless steel, vary in length from ½  inch to 5 inches. The type of needle chosen is determined by the location of the acupuncture point and the desired effect.

Is acupuncture safe?

When performed by a trained, licensed practitioner, acupuncture is very safe and has virtually no side effects. On occasion there may be some bruising at the needle site or minor bleeding when the needle is removed. In addition, all needles used are pre-packaged, sterilized, for one time use only. Anna Palucci Young, L.Ac., is a trained, licensed practitioner of Asian medicine. She is board certified in Acupuncture and has successfully completed Clean Needle Technique training.

What does acupuncture treat?

The World Health Organization has determined that acupuncture is an effective, natural therapy for over 200 clinical conditions, including:

  • Back pain

  • Neck and shoulder pain

  • Repetitive stress injuries

  • Insomnia

  • Migraines and headaches

  • Alcohol, food, and tobacco addiction

  • Accidental injuries (promotes healing)

  • Sprains

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Respiratory problems

  • Digestive problems

  • Gynecological disorders

  • Circulatory disorders

  • Nervous system disorders

In addition, acupuncture reduces stress and anxiety, and promotes a deep state of relaxation, enhancing the overall healing process. East Asian herbal medicine can increase the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments and is often the primary treatment for chronic, internal medical disorders.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the insertion of very thin, flexible needles into specific points on the body to promote healing. There are over three hundred identified acupuncture points, each having its own therapeutic action. Acupuncture works by assisting the body's innate intelligence to heal itself by promoting blood circulation. Further, it has been found that needling acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals can change the experience of pain as well as trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body's own internal regulating system thus bringing the body back into balance. This improved chemical balance produced by acupuncture leads to the promotion of both physical and emotional health.

What is Herbal Medicine?

In other forms of herbal medicine, single herbs or small formulas of herbs with the same function are used to address the symptoms of an illness. If the focus is simply on addressing symptoms, then treatment needs to be continued indefinitely. In sharp contrast, East Asian herbal medicine employs a number of single herbs with varying, synergistic functions to create formulas which focus on rebalancing the whole body and treating the root cause of illness. Once the root cause is addressed, symptoms will subside and treatment can be discontinued.

In conjunction with acupuncture, East Asian herbal medicine is an important modality. East Asian herbal formulas, consisting of two to eighteen or more different types of single herbs and are effective, yet gentle treatments that provide a safe, natural alternative to pharmaceutical chemicals. These classic herbal formulas which have been in existence for thousands of years, can be customized to address each person's unique symptoms and energetic imbalances.

What is food therapy?

In East Asian medicine, food is used therapeutically for its healing properties. In ancient China , dieticians (Shi yi) were considered the most significant healers, even above internists and surgeons. Their primary task was the prevention of disease, along with the therapeutic use of foods for both acute and chronic diseases.  Myriad foods, most of which you are already familiar with, have healing properties that can assist in regulating your body's function for maximum health and wellness. Each food has a specific thermal nature and flavor which can assist in healing specific symptoms.

What is Qi Gong?

Qi Gong is an ancient movement therapy which has been in existence for thousands of years. It is a very powerful self-healing discipline that is effective for many health issues. Qi gong actually means "energy work" and it is a very powerful self-healing discipline that is effective for many conditions. Qi Gong consists of deep breathing, low-impact conditioning and stretching. It increases range of motion and stamina, builds strength and improves coordination and balance. This unique practice also has an impact on the body internally. Qi Gong movements can relax the connective tissue and fascia that hold the internal organs in place which results in these organs working much more efficiently in the body.


There have been and continue to be many studies done proving the efficacy of Qi Gong in achieving and maintaining health and well-being. To learn more about these studies, I recommend the book The Way of Qi Gong by Kenneth S. Cohen.

Qi Gong is an amazing tool!  Once you have made this ancient therapy a part of your daily repertoire, you alone will have tremendous control over your own health and well being.

Qi Gong is a very important part of a comprehensive health plan and it is recommended that you continue using it even after you have completed your acupuncture treatments making it a part of your self-care plan permanently. This will ensure that you maintain the level of health and well-being achieved during treatment.

Remember, Asian Medicine is a comprehensive medical system which can be used to restore optimal health. The goal of AM practitioners is not to keep you in treatment indefinitely, but to first assist you in achieving optimal health and then to educate you about the many tools you can use to maintain that health.

Qi Gong is one of THE most important tools you can use!

What is Tui Na Massage?

Tui Na is the use of specialized massage techniques (rolling, kneading, pressing, rubbing, and brushing) along with the stimulation of acupressure points to promote circulation in the body. Treatment is determined based on the same diagnostic principles as used with other EAM treatment modalities such as the use of the pulse and tongue to determine which areas of the body are blocked.


What is Moxabustion?

Moxibustion provides local heat over acupuncture points thereby increasing needle stimulation. It is made from the dried leaves of artemisia vulgaris (mugwort) and comes in many forms.

 What is Guasha?

Guasha involves the palpation and cutaneous stimulation of the skin with pressured strokes, by a round-edged instrument. The results is the appearance of small red petechiae called 'sha', that usually fades in 2 to 3 days. Guasha removes blood stagnation and promotes normal circulation and metabolic processes. Patients usually experience immediate relief from pain, stiffness, fever, chill, cough, and nausea. It is often used in the prevention and treatment of acute, upper respiratory infections and digestive problems, and many other acute or chronic disorders.

What is Cupping?

Cupping is a therapy in which a glass jar is attached to the skin surface causing local congestion either through creating a vacuum by introducing heat in the form of an ignited material or by removing the air with a pump.  Cupping has  been found to affect the body up to four inches into the tissues, causing tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages and help activate and clear the veins, arteries and capillaries.

What is electrical stimulation?

Electrical stimulation entails the use of a small, battery operated, electrical stimulation device which has been created specifically for providing ongoing stimulation throughout the acupuncture treatment. Tiny clips are attached to specific needles (usually only 2-4 at a time), the power is turned on and the level of stimulation is slowly turned up until a slight tapping

sensation is felt at the point. This type of manipulation can be used for many types of conditions but is used most often for musculo-skeletal pain.

Is it safe to receive acupuncture while I am on pharmaceutical medications?

Yes, it is safe. Acupuncture will not interfere with any medications or supplements you may be currently taking. One exception to this is if you are taking a blood thinner such as Coumadin (Warfarin). Excessive bleeding is a risk so it is important that your INR (International Normalized Ratio) is consistently at a normal range and that you provide your lab results to your acupuncturist on a regular basis.

What are the current educational requirements to become a practitioner of Asian medicine?


In the state of Illinois, Acupuncture is regulated by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. A 3-4 year degree from a state-approved nationally accredited Master's degree program is required to become a licensed Acupuncturist ( L.Ac. ).

In addition, certification by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) www.nccaom.org is also required. Each candidate must pass a series of rigorous board exams and become certified in Clean Needle Technique. After passing these exams, candidates will receive diplomate status in Oriental Medicine ( Dipl. OM ).

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) Master's Degree Program:

Master of Science (Traditional Oriental Medicine) is awarded following the completion of 11 terms of classes. A total of 191.24 Units (approximately 3,527 hours) are required.

Some of these courses include:

Anatomy and Physiology 1-4, Biology, Biochemistry, Pathophysiology 1 & 2, Physical Exam, Pharmacology, Clinical Science 1 &2, Western Nutrition, Clinical Counseling 1-3, Orthopedic/Neurologic Evaluation 1 & 2, Clinical Research & Design Statistics, Acupuncture Points 1-5. Needle Technique, Auricular Acupuncture, Herbology 1-10, Tui Na Massage Structural Techniques, Diagnosis and Treatment of Disease 1-7, Eastern Nutrition, Qi Gong & Tai Qi, Clinical Rounds 1-6, Clinical Internship 1-9, Medical/Legal Report Writing.

Also, the needles are so tiny. Check out this comparison chart:

One more thing: most people's first experience with needles is with a hypodermic needle (AKA medical syringe). You know, the ones that you received an injection with or had blood drawn with? Yes, these needles hurt! They hurt because they are hollow and tear flesh! Acupuncture needles are solid and DO NOT tear the flesh! Again, they are so tiny!

In fact, you can actually fit twenty acupuncture needles into the head of one hypodermic needle!
In home appointments available in West Seattle and Burien.
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© 2023 by Anna Palucci Young.