More about the needles


My preferred size of acupuncture needle, next to a quarter.

A lot of people are creeped out by the thought of acupuncture because of the needles. When they think of needles, they think of hypodermic needles, sewing needles, knitting needles… so for anyone who hasn’t seen an acupuncture needle, here’s a picture of one. This is the size I use most frequently. The needle shaft is made of sterile stainless steel, 15 millimeters (about half an inch) in length and 16/100 of a millimeter (about… ummm… *really* thin) in diameter. The handle is made from plastic, and is color coded (different diameters have different colors). The actual depth of insertion is about a quarter- to half-way, so usually about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch or so – in other words, very superficial. I normally insert between 10-20 of these per treatment, on 10-20 people a day – which means I’m slinging up to 2000 of these little guys per week.

For most people, even those who are nervous to try acupuncture, the needles turn out to be no big deal. It takes just a few minutes to put them in, and then the effects begin – most people feel a deep relaxation set in, and many people fall asleep while getting the acupuncture. When they wake up, usually after about 45 minutes, they say things like “best sleep I’ve had all week” or “my pain feels much lighter” or just “wow!”

So, if you haven’t tried acupuncture, or haven’t tried it in a while, maybe it’s time to get a treatment. The best places to get these relaxing, stress-easing, pain-relieving effects are the clinics of the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA). There you can get acupuncture at an affordable rate, as often as you need it.