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Can you have needles inserted and feel nothing?

Q:  Can you have have the needles inserted and manipulated and feel nothing, this has happened with 3 needles in my back.? I could feel the other 9

A:  This is perfectly possible. The combination of the pressure of the guide tube through which the needle is inserted and the pencil-point tip of many needles can mean that there is no discernible feeling when a needle is inserted and manipulated. It is also important to bear in mind that the back is not the most sensitive area of the body, and the special cells which detect feeling are often more widely spaced than elsewhere on the body.
 
There are a number of different styles of acupuncture, and the range of possible sensation is considerable. Modern practice in China is to elicit a very specific response to the needling, called 'deqi', which is a rather dull aching sensation, like the beginnings of a bruise. By contrast, modern Japanese techniques are often so subtle that there is no sensation at all, and we have heard stories of Japanese practitioners apologising if a patient makes any noise when the needle is inserted. The same applies to the needle insertion itself. Japanese needles are pencil-tip shape, in contrast to the slightly rounded end of the Chinese needle, and even at 0.2 of a mm, there is a tangible difference as these needles are inserted, with the Chinese varieties more likely to be felt as they break the skin. The sensation is usually not very great or very long-lasting, however, and if a sharp pain continues after the needle has been inserted it is as well to let the practitioner know so that they can make it more comfortable.
 
In any event if you cannot feel a needle either being inserted or in place when you can feel others it is as well to let the practitioner know. None of us is infallible, and the literally pinpoint accuracy needed is not always achieved. It can also be good feedback to the practitioner about the energetic sensitivity of the area, rather akin to the famous Sherlock Holmes 'dog that did not bark.' If there is a reaction in some places and not others this may be evidence of a poor flow of energy, or 'qi', in the area which may have diagnostic significance.   

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