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But I’m afraid!

I was asked how to convince someone who’s afraid of needles to give acupuncture a try.

My usual answer is that acupuncture is not painful as that’s what most fear. I call it ahhhhhcupuncture, said with a sigh, because most fall asleep during their treatments. But, if saying that doesn’t help, I suggest to have that person contact me. Maybe there’s a non-needle approach I can suggest: herbs, supplements, lifestyle changes, dietary recommendations, etc. Maybe they’ll be willing to try just one needle.

That’s something I’ve done with a number of patients. I’ve asked them if I could try just one acupuncture needle with them. I said that if it hurt or they didn’t like it, I would immediately take it out and not continue. Everyone has let me continue. Because acupuncture should not be painful. One of my acuphobe patients now calls the acupuncture needles “happy sticks” as she doesn’t think of them like needles.

For some, explaining the difference between an acupuncture needle and a hypodermic (injection) needle makes it less scary. An average hypodermic needle could fit 10-40 acupuncture needles inside. An acupuncture needle does not push in or pull out any fluid (that is often what you feel more than the injection needle itself). An acupuncture needle is shaped differently. This shape allows it to glide easily through tissue with less disruption and thus less (or no) pointy needle sensation.


This is why some of my patients fall asleep before I’ve even finished putting in their acupuncture “happy sticks”!

This convinces most people that an acupuncture needle experience is different from an injection needle experience and turns acuphobe to acuphile. But, still not everyone is convinced that it’s not scary.

It was a 5-minute video that I just watched that made me think that there’s another way to approach people’s fears. It’s called “Practical Pessimism”. Tim Ferriss is author of “The 4-Hour Workweek” and “The 4-Hour Body”. I haven’t read the first book, but I’m being open-minded in reading the latter. If you want to read more about how I can link Yoda, Tim, and acupuncture, click here for my blog on “Planning for the Worst“.

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