Is acupuncture meant to be this painful?!

I recently went for an acupuncture session, admittedly I had a pre-conception that it would be a pleasurable experience perhaps resulting in an improvement to my very painful herniated cervical disc.

Never have I been so wrong, it was one of the most painful experiences of my life, needles placed into my hand, arm and worst of all my cervical spinal area up to an inch in depth causing me to scream in agony. It was awful!

Was I mis-informed or did I visit the wrong practicioner?!

These were the actual needles which I was told to bring back on my next visit, are they not meant to be single use?

Had a lot of acupuncture over the years, though not recently, and it has never been painful, even though some needles were stuck in my neck right next to the carotid and other particularly sensitive areas. Sounds to me like you need to try someone else.

As for the needles, I've never been asked to keep them and take them back. I've always assumed that they reused the needles after sterilising them. but I don't know that for a fact. There may be new rules to prevent transmission of HIV or whatever from one patient to another. If you're worried, you could put them in boiling water for 10 minutes (I think that's enough) and/or put them in a bath of medicinal alcohol.

P.S. -- Have you tried a chiropractor? Works for us.

James, my physiotherapist also did acupuncture, and I had a few sessions for my disc problem. I believe they can be inserted up to an inch deep (I didn't look) but I certainly had no pain. The needles he used were new every time. Personally I don't think re-using the old ones can possibly be right. Some people swear by acupuncture but it had no great effect on me at all.

Hi James, acupuncture can be painful if the needle is inserted incorrectly hitting a nerve. Even very experienced acupuncturists can have this happen. A good one will listen to you and remove the needle instantly or shift it to reduce any discomfort. Needles can also cause a sting but it shouldn’t last long, dissipating after a minute. The ache (kind of sore muscle feeling) is a good one though. As for the “saving needles”, that just strikes me as odd. Never heard of such a thing!

This sounds a little worrying James.....

You will know from my previous enthusiastic reccommendation of this as a possible treatment (I had it for very painful, Plantar Fasciitis),that there was very little pain, just some discomfort as the things were gently 'twiddled about'...(in my feet & lower legs and hand, I think)...sometimes special herbs are burnt also (moxibustion), but not always.

Who is your practicioner ? Mine was also my GP.....I was not given the long needles to take away with me, but as someone has already pointed out, this might be new regulations to avoid contamination...

I would try Googling some other practitioners and talk to them about you recent experience...

It is worth persevering, because the recovery for me was nothing short of miraculous...5 days, each day less pain until it was completely gone.....Just 1 treatment too....

Definitely sounds wrong.

I've had osteopathy and chiropractic interventions to keep my back going over the years. Three different practitioners also used acupuncture. Other than a very slight pinprick as the needle goes in (less than for an injection) there was no pain at all despite sometimes being inserted quite deep. Worst sensation might have been a dull ache on occasions. Extreme pain I think suggests something wrong.

How did you end up keeping the needles? Surely they kept them when they removed them; or did you have to do that for yourself? If so that sounds very odd to me.

So long as the needles are sterilised they can be reused if they are designed to be. There are reusable ones and single use disposible ones. Single use are increasingly seen as the 'best' way to go apparently.

I had acupuncture from A Chinese doctor and felt nothing, which was good for me as for many years I had a phobia of needles. I also had moxibustion by which some of the needles were heated. The Chinese who practice acupuncture have to first qualify as a doctor of medicine and THEN they go onto study Acupuncture for many years. Sadly I have heard of many GPs, who go on weekend study courses for learning acupuncture, which I feel sometimes is not a good thing. How can they hope to learn all in the odd weekends, when a Chinese has to do years of study ? Personally I prefer to find a Chinese doctor of Acupuncture.

ALso James - those needles in the photo look very fat to me. Normally Acupuncture needles are thinner than a human hair. Just saying. Why do you have to take those needles on your next visit. They will be a bit blunt as they have already been used. Furthermore will they be sterilised before any more use ?

Looks a bit "ifffy" to me James.

This is worrying...hope your practitioner isn't one of these....

Found this place...

The Eymet Wellness Clinic

Home to five dedicated, registered practitioners offering the very best in chiropractic, chiropody, Chinese medicine, hypno/psychotherapy and optical services.

At 18 Bd National, Eymet. Call 05 53 23 32 2

& this....

Hopefully you might find someone closer (you're in landes, I think ?)

Good luck, I would be surprised if it doesn't help...


Crikey James, that's so wrong on many levels... I've had acupuncture for a muscle spasm in my neck. I didn't feel the needles at all, and I certainly didn't take them home!!!

It worked - but I did have to pull the car over on the way home and be super-sick... I called the clinic about it and they said that could often happen and they were sorry I wasn't told.

Be careful - we need you!

Good Lord!! I am a Licenced Acupuncturist in the UK and the simple answer is NO! As Dielle quite rightly said, sometimes we may 'hit' a nerve, but these should be very superficial and cause a bit of a tingle, if the sensation continues to be painful then the needles needs to be removed and re-inserted. What concerns me the most is the take home needles.... Who is this 'Acupuncturist'? Are they actually trained?, if so what are their qualifications?! Please don't go back there. What if YOU didn't clean the needles properly? I'm astounded!!

My Chinese born wife is doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The needles she uses are single use, come in sterilized packaging , with an expiry date. She also sterilizes the skin where she applies them with alcohol. They should not hurt like that either.

The right needles are hard to get and relatively expensive in France, but she would not think of reusing them.

It's proving very hard to get her Chinese qualifications recognized though, so she is not currently working here.


I can recommend a French lady who speaks perfect English and is a qualified Chinese Practioner in Salies. She occasionally uses acupuncture on me in addition to my regular massage to help a particular problem. Never had anything more than a bit of discomfort. And definitely never reused needles. pm me if you want to know more.

By coincidence I have just returned home after an acupuncture session for a problem with my sciatic nerve. No pain( apart from the occasional prick on insertion) and no needles to bring away. My acupuncturist is the district nurse who is really interested in alternative medecines and regularly updates his training by spending his holidays learning in countries where these practices are the norm.

My feeling is, change your practitioner!

I have back issues and my osteopath has used acupuncture (successfully) a couple of times. I was aware he was doing it, but no pain. By coincidence I visited him today (in the UK) and asked about giving clients needles to take home. He was baffled at that one - his needles are one time use only and discarded safely in a sharps bin - and said no UK osteopath would be allowed to do that.

So far I have been lucky and managed to time my "MOT" visits with trips back to the UK, so have still to meet our local ost

I won't be going back to see her! I'll be having an epidural steroid injection tomorrow directly in to the disc. Fingers crossed for me please!

Hi james you just picked a lousy practitioner. Most acup. use single use disposable needles. Sometimes therapists try to hard to make their patients better pronto,and in doiing so there techniques are too aggressive. Dont give up on this modality, but definitly search for someone else. There is a profesional assoc. of traditional chinese practitioners UFPMTC based out of Paris tel. 0142469540 Call and ask the secretary for any members based in you area Bordeux correct? Good luck!!!


Another one for the album! Thanks xxx