Patients often ask us why they feel the needles in some points and not in others. It’s very common to experience a range of sensations during an acupuncture treatment. Some patients barely feel anything, while others report a dull, achy sensation, heaviness, or even a little zing when the needle first goes in. During the rest period while the needles are doing their work, some patients don’t feel anything, while others experience heat or cold sensations, tingling, throbbing, or even a floating sensation.
There are a number of reasons why you might feel different sensations at different spots. Some of the most common include:
- Location on the body. Some points are just more sensitive than others! The fingers and toes have a higher concentration of nerve endings near the surface of the skin, so points on the extremities are naturally more sensitive than those closer to the center of the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this is explained as the body’s energy or Qi bubbling up to the surface at the extremities, and then pouring deeper into the body’s internal regions as if flows towards center.
- Environmental factors. Your body is different on different days, and your level of sensitivity to the needles can be contingent on external factors. If you’re hungry, or dehydrated, or haven’t slept well, the needles might feel more painful.
- Function of the point. Points that have a strong function to invigorate the flow of Qi tend to be more sensitive, simply because they have such a profound effect on the body.
- Degree of imbalance in the body. A good rule of thumb is, “the more it hurts, the more you need it.” For example, if you have a lot of sinus congestion and inflammation, then points to help clear your sinuses will be more tender than other, more general-use points.
Want to learn more? In this video, Encircle Acupuncturists Ali Bellos and Alexa Hulsey talk about why you feel some points more than others, and discuss some of their favorite points that often elicit a strong reaction. Plus, you’ll get to learn some of our point nicknames, like the Friendmaker and Catfish Whiskers!