Acupuncture: Getting Over Your Fear of Needles

We’ve all had some of experience with needles, whether you remember being a child waiting in line to receive a booster shot, or an adult getting your blood drawn, having a needle stuck in your body doesn’t exactly represent the happiest time of your life. For many people, childhood fears and past memories may make it hard to get over their fear of needles.

After recently completing an acupuncture course, I was needle happy and ready to practice. All I needed were people to practice on.  Unfortunately for my partner, Steve, he is terrified of needles.  He hated it as a kid and he still hates it as an adult. He is squeamish with the sight of needles and can’t even look when someone on TV is being needled.  Even though I knew he didn’t like needles, I asked him to be my guinea pig anyways. After some tough convincing, I managed to get him to agree. 

Not all needles are the same

Steve has never had acupuncture before but his past experience of needles themselves have flooded his emotional gateways and now his imagination has got the best of him.

Unlike hypodermic hollow needles similar to those when you get your blood drawn, acupuncture needles are extremely thin, solid and are approximately 3 times thinner. They are made of stainless steel and are very flexible. Most people feel minimal discomfort when these fine needles are being inserted. For me, it reminds me of a mosquito bite or sometimes a bee sting.  Some people experience a warm sensation or an achiness, but keep in mind everyone’s experience may differ.

What happened?

Jessie’s perspective:

Well, it wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped. I thought showing him how thin and flexible the needle was would help calm his nerves, but I was wrong.  Secondly, I tried to be good therapist by explaining to him some of the potential side effects of acupuncture needling. I explained that I needed him to lie down because fainting may occur on the first treatment. Thirdly, I picked a point on his hand where he watched in horror. Even after all that, he let me insert the needle. It didn’t stay in long but it was done. 

Steve’s Perspective:

I was anxious and unsure of how it was going to feel. I was afraid it was going to be very painful and that (Jessie) would hit a nerve or a blood vessel. I was so nervous that I was gripping the couch until my knuckles were white.

It made me jump when the needle went in, but after a few minutes, I didn’t feel anything. I just wanted the needle out.

Picture: Elisa with acupuncture needles in her back

Practice makes Perfect?

Over the past few months, I’ve managed to get a few acupoints stimulated on his low back, thigh and buttock with less anxiety. The electrotherapy point finder is an effective alternative to the days he doesn’t want to be needled. This device basically sends electrotherapy current to the acupuncture points without the insertion of needles.  Although Steve isn’t always jumping to volunteer to be needled, he is slowly adjusting to the idea that the needles are meant to help him, not hurt him.


Steve, has anything helped to calm your nerves about acupuncture?

  • Breathing out while the needle is inserted
  • Lying down
  • Avoid looking at the needle
  • Avoid thinking that it’s going to hurt


Acupuncture is safe and effective for treating a variety of acute and chronic conditions. This form of therapy encourages natural healing, reduce or relieve pain and improve function.  Being relaxed and calm will increase the effectiveness of treatment. Once you’ve found a therapist that you can trust, you will be able to experience the true healing powers of acupuncture.Check your local directory for therapists that can provide acupuncture therapy!

A special thanks to Steve & Elisa for being such good guinea pigs!


Jessie Wong, Physiotherapist from the Physio Room


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