Patients are often curious to know more about acupuncture and I thought it might be worthwhile to share some of the frequently asked questions and answers.
What are the acupuncture needles made of? The acupuncture needles I use are either Seirin or S|Needles, sterile disposable needles. They are made from superior quality 18-8 surgical grade stainless steel. The acupuncture needles come pre-sterilised and ready to use in their own sterile plastic guide tubes. Each needle and tube is sealed in a transparent heat sealed plaster blister package. Each needle has a plastic head which is welded to the inside of the sterile guide tube. This means that I never touch the actual needle, only the plastic head. The plastic head is also useful for visibility because the needles are so fine they would be nearly invisible
What is inside the acupuncture needle? The needle is solid, there is nothing inside. It is not at all like a hypodermic needle. Under a microscope the needle tip looks like the tip of a javelin.
How far does the needle go in? The needles I use depend on the area I am treating. Around the elbow or knee for example I would use mostly 3 cm needles, for the back muscles 3-5 cm. For example a 3 cm needle is shown below in one of the acupuncture points for tennis elbow. One of the acupuncture points for tennis elbow The longest needle I have is 12.5 cm and would be used (rarely) for treating deep hip muscles on a fairly obese person. I like to use a needle that is long enough to leave 1 cm or more space between the skin and the plastic handle. Does it hurt The acupuncture needles are very fine and are therefore virtually painless on insertion.
Who invented acupuncture? We don't know for sure. Chinese written records go back 3000 years but the oldest known evidence for acupuncture is European from 5000 years ago. See here for further information.
What happens to the needles after you take them out? They go into a special "sharps" bin. The "sharps" bin is collected by a contractor at regular intervals and taken away to be incinerated. As a student I was taught that the needles should be in their packet, in the patient or in the sharps bin. This is good practice and is the rule that I follow.
Bill Ferguson, Osteopath
My name is Bill Ferguson and I am an Osteopath and Acupuncturist.I run a private practice in Tenterden, Kent.
Bill Ferguson Osteopath and Acupuncturist Tel: 01580 762754. See here for my practice website www.billferguson.co.uk