Acupuncture needles range from 1/4 inch to several inches in length and a few thousandths to several thousandths of an inch in diameter. One inch and 1.5 inch are the most commonly used lengths of needle. The others are reserved for more specialized use. The vast majority of needles used in the US are stainless steel but copper, gold and silver are still in use. Gold is thought by some to tonify and silver to disperse Qi. When the needle is inserted the patient may feel nothing or a sensation akin to a mosquito bite, or perhaps a fly bite. Any pain should subside within a few seconds after insertion. Sensation after needles insertion varies widely.
You may feel nothing. You may feel a heaviness either around the needle or your whole body. It may seem like there is electricity at the needle or coursing through the channel. Yet another sensation is the feel of water moving through a hose. All of these sensations are held to be the experience of Qi. If the sensation is burning or sharp and/or continuous the needle should be adjusted. According to the Nei Jing the practitioner feels “a fish taking a hook”.
The experience while the needles are in (usually 20 - 40 minutes) depends upon the nature of the imbalance of the flow of energy. Sometimes the patient relaxes profoundly, sometimes he/she feels energized. Many times patients will go to sleep. Other times the patient enters a meditative state. The kinds of experience can vary widely during the course of treatment.