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Pain shot up into the top of my head after needle inserted in my forehead - is this okay?

Q:The Chinese accupuncturist inserted a needle in my forehead and pain shot up into the top of my head like it was travelling in a straight line. is this ok?

A:  It is never OK to feel discomfort when having acupuncture treatment but it is a rather obvious risk from sticking sharp objects into people.

The prosaic answer from a conventional medical point of view was that the needle had hit a superficial nerve, but given what you describe it sounds much more like the kind of reaction we see sometimes when a needle activates a channel or meridian as we call them. These are distinct lines of flow of energy which travel across the body in fixed patterns. When a needle is inserted it can sometimes activate the whole channel, and there are at least five major channels on the forehead which go up and over the head. Needling a point here could well cause a sensation higher up.

If it is a reaction to treatment it will subside within minutes, or occasionally hours if the treatment carries on working. If someone has hit a nerve then the pain may last for a day or two.

It is very important to give feedback to your practitioner about what happened, if they aren't aware already. There is considerable room for adjustment of technique in Chinese medicine, and a practitioner can if need be needle to a lesser depth and also use less manipulation of the needle.

We do find some patients who when needled can tell us exactly where the channel flows across the body, but most do not experience it as a pain. A painful reaction suggests a slightly too vigorous technique for your system.

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