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Is Five Element Acupuncture SUPPOSED to be painful?


I am seeing a Naturopathic Doctor who is also a licensed acupuncturist. I have had previous experience with acupuncture, and have found it restful, painless and pleasant.

This N.D. is my first experience with 5 Element acupuncture. As she does it, 5 Element acupuncture is a very uncomfortable procedure. She inserts needles (usually after moxibustion) with the expectation that it's "working" if and only if I react with a strong almost unbearable dull ache. If this strong reaction means the process is effective I can put up with it. But if it hurts so much because she just doesn't know what she's doing then I need to find another practitioner.

At this week's session one needle in the pad of my palm was especially painful -- ached enough to bring me to tears for about 10 minutes -- and resulted in a bruise in that area. I've tried finding information on the web referring to the "aggressive" nature of 5 Element acupuncture compared to other acupuncture, but have found no information. Can anyone help answer my question?


The practitioner might argue this, but that sounds just like bad technique and/or very poor training - plain and simple. Find another practitioner...

No acupuncture should be painful, it&#39s only bad needling technique that does this. Even with more invasive needling techniques, properly done they cause minimal discomfort.


Thanks for your perspective Chad.

If anyone else in the community would care to weigh in, I would appreciate it!


I agree with Chad. Although I&#39m always careful to tell patients that acupuncture is not exactly completely painless, there should not be pain like what you&#39re describing. "Da qi" is the term used for the achy, warm, heavy or full feeling at the needle insertion site, and that often does indicate a well chosen point. Having said that, none of the needles should cause the kind of discomfort you&#39re describing. Part of what makes for a good treatment is the patient&#39s ability to relax and let the Qi flow. You can not relax sufficiently if you are in pain. Even ashi points that are tender on palpation feel better when needled. Sharp or intense pain indicates poor technique, especially if it continues for more than just a few seconds. I don&#39t think it has to do with the 5 Element style--- no style should do that to you.


I am a 5 element acupuncturist. I can confidently say your practitioner has got poor techinique, and would be happy if you showed them my comments.

5 element techniques do not call for deep needling, do not manipulate the needle, do not seek de qi. I trained in this style because I wanted an approach that was least likely to cause discomfort, as I work a lot with children and traumatised adults. 5 element needling is frequently painless, and any sensations are related to what&#39s happening with a person&#39s qi at the point, not due to the needling. If a patient is ultra-sensitive, then the reponsibility lies with the practitioner to modify their technique - simple as that, and no bending the rules about it.

I am not aware of any naturopathic courses that teach 5 element although you say your practitioner is a LicAc/LAc. You really need to challenge them on this, as many people &#39pick up&#39 hints/techniques and consider that sufficient to allow them to carry out procedures. In no way should any acupuncture be so painful it causes you distress, but certainly NOT 5 element!


Acupuncture generally is not very painful, atleast not painful to the extent of bringing tears in your eyes for 10 minutes. After proper needling you may feel a tingling or slightly itching sensation in the needled area which may persist for a few minutes even after the needles are removed, but again not necessary that you should experience this feeling. A quick inserstion of the needle to correct depth will not be more than a mosquito bite, however certian areas can be more painful than the others like the points near your nails of hands and toes. In Areas like thighs, buttocks, biceps etc where there is more muscle the pain is very minimal and somtimes you may not even feel that the needle is inserted.

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