Acupuncture does not have to hurt. Sometimes it does. If you have a muscle that is cramping, it can hurt a little to put a needle in it. I usually tell people that they will not like me today, but they will like me tomorrow, because they will feel a lot better.
Acupuncture needles are not to be re-used. In China, they used to save the needles from a patient in the hospitals and re-use them on that patient. I don’t know if they still do that. In America, it is not usually done. In fact, if you see someone who re-uses needles, you need to find someone else. The average acupuncture needle is 10 cents or less and it is not worth re-using them.
I use the best needles you can buy, which is Seirin. Seirin needles are highly polished and made in Japan. They are considered to be top quality. You can buy cheaper needles that are not polished as well, but they can hurt more when you take them out. If you have never had acupuncture, you will not notice the difference. Needles are made in China and Korea and every acupuncturist has a preference on brands and sizes.
The Japanese patient has a big aversion to any type of pain or sensation, so the Japanese came up with a “painless” needles. The Chinese do not feel they have gotten their money’s worth if they do not feel the acupuncture strongly. It is a cultural difference. I find most Americans do not want to feel much.
Acupressure is an option. I also use magnetic pellets, they are just little magnetic balls that I use on acupuncture points. There are also acupuncture tacks. They are tiny needles attached to a piece of tape. They are less intimidating looking for some people than acupuncture needles.
These are Seirin acupuncture needles. The are in order of size. You can tell your acupuncturist is using these needles, because they are the only brand with colored handles. They come at a premium and cost double what other brands cost.
Here are some pictures of patients with Seirin needles: