It Is Required To Insert A Needle Fast and then Push It slower
By Winston Lee L. Ac, Ph.D., KMD
Based on a 2012 study, only 6.3% of the U.S. population had ever had acupuncture treatment. Because we see patients every day, we think that many people have experience with acupuncture and will not be afraid that much, but that is a mistake. The vast majority of people have never had acupuncture treatment in their lifetime. We have to think of it as similar to the fear we had when we had to have our teeth removed for the first time when we were young. Anything you’ve never done before can be terrifying.
Therefore, as a physician, we must make every effort to make the patient feel less pain when providing acupuncture treatment. This is as important as reducing the patient’s problems and acupuncture pain itself, and it is something we should always be concerned about. In the worst case, acupuncture stimulation may hurt more than the patient’s pain. Suppose a patient visits my clinic to get treatment for indigestion that is not severe but uncomfortable, and the patient feels extreme pain that bursts into tears because of the needle on the tip of her index finger. What benefit is acupuncture to the patient?
When I put acupuncture on the patient, I rarely do it on their fingertips and toes. Very occasionally, once or twice a year, I do acupuncture on it, but I don’t do it unless necessary. In most cases, needles are inserted into the muscles of the torso, arms, or legs. The valley of the muscle is less painful than the fingertips and toes, and especially when the ligament is accurately targeted, there is no severe pain other than a heavy feeling.
If it’s evitable to do acupuncture on the painful area of the patient’s body, we can use an ‘ice pad’ beforehand. Ice is a very effective method to feel numb. It doesn’t require any medicine, syringe, or complicated procedure. We need to prepare a freezer and a couple of pads. Put an ice pad on a certain area for 5 to 10 minutes and do the acupuncture afterward. The patient feels less pain than ever. It’s a simple and easy way to make a patient comfortable and painless.
It is also important to inform the patient in advance when doing acupuncture. When acupuncture is performed, the pain pattern in each part is quite different. When it comes to the trapezius muscle, there may be a very sore pain, and in the gluteus muscles, there is a heavy yet deep feeling. If you tell the patient clearly that this kind of pain is coming, the pain is relatively less. Conversely, if you suddenly do the acupuncture without any notice, no doubt the patient feels a relatively greater pain.
The speed of the acupuncture needle insertion technique also has a significant effect. This is not to say that acupuncture should be done slowly, as always. When an acupuncture needle penetrates the epidermis, it should be done as quickly as possible using a plastic guide like playing staccato on a piano key, and then insert it as slowly as possible when touching the trigger point. Conversely, if the needle is inserted slowly as it passes through the epidermis and is done rapidly in the deep tissue area, the patient will feel greater pain. If you remember, the location of the sensory receptors that feel acupuncture pain is concentrated in the epidermis rather than deep in the muscle; it would be easier to remember whenever you practice acupuncture treatments.