Three Common Misconceptions About Acupuncture


Natural Pain Relief in Bothell, WA

Acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years. It is defined by tradition and a clearly established set of principles. Acupuncture is widely accepted around the world as an effective treatment for more than just pain. Several leading health organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, the Mayo Clinic, and the National Cancer Institute, have approved its use as effective therapy for treating many health conditions.


Even with increased awareness of the many positive benefits of acupuncture as reported in the press, people have three common misconceptions about it:

1. Acupuncture will hurt


A very common misconception is that acupuncture will hurt, and that it has to hurt to work. Most of us have experienced a “fear of needles” at some point in our lives—a bad blood draw, getting a shot, and maybe even a tattoo—but those are different types of needles.

That is why I call them “points” as they are not scary needles at all.

An acupuncture needle is solid and very thin. You can actually fit about twenty acupuncture needles inside a needle that is used to draw blood! An acupuncture needle has no fluid or substance. It is a sterile, stainless steel needle that is used one time and then disposed of in a sharps container.



During acupuncture treatment, most people might feel some slight pressure when the needle is inserted that lasts for many less than a second, but others report “they had no idea the needles were in.”

Your first acupuncture treatment will usually be a learning experience regarding what to expect and how acupuncture actually works. I have found that during a second treatment most people get right into a Zen-like acupuncture state, and their fears or any anxiety they may have had disappears.

2. Acupuncture can only treat pain

Many people learn about how acupuncture can help treat pain through news stories or from others who may have used it, but acupuncture can treat more than just pain. The WHO and NIH have recognized acupuncture as being not only an effective therapy for pain but also effective in treating many other conditions. Why? Acupuncture works to stimulate your body’s own ability to heal, thus helping to rebalance your system and treat a wide range of symptoms.

At our clinic, we have treated people suffering from migraines, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, IBS, nerve pain, and heartburn to name a few. As an added bonus, most people start feeling better after just a few sessions. They are more energetic, sleep better, and can handle stress easier than before. How does that sound for a well-rounded treatment!


3. Acupuncture is the same as dry needling

This subject has been a hot topic recently. The controversy comes from other practitioners doing needling and advertising or claiming that the process is acupuncture or that injuries result due to the practitioner having little to no training in the safe use of needles. These cases have been seen with physical therapists and chiropractors doing “dry needling.”

Did you know the true definition of dry needling is using a hypodermic needle (the needle you get your blood drawn or bigger) to manipulate in muscles? Yes, that is the true definition of dry needling, using a needle with an empty syringe. So, yikes, that is scary! But in today’s society, the term dry needling is misused and practitioners who are not adequately trained are using needles in their treatment and just giving it another name to claim they are “not doing acupuncture but dry needling.”

As a doctor and acupuncturist, I have extensive training over 2000 hours of needle safety including the use of hypodermic needles, trigger point and pain relief injections, and acupuncture needling. Even taking a clean needle technique certification that is required by law to practice acupuncture. Other practitioners such as physical therapist and chiropractors are not required to take those safety classes, that is where the problem lies. I feel so passionately about people getting treatment from properly trained professionals and that the term dry needling is in fact confusing to both patients and practitioners.

I have written an article about this subject, which you can view here.

Acupuncture, though, differs from the true definition of dry needling in both technique and the training required to administer it properly. Yes, training! That is the primary reason why acupuncturists oppose chiropractors, physical therapists, and even medical doctors doing “acupuncture or dry needling” on their patients. It’s all about patient safety.

True acupuncture and the use of filiform needles, should only be performed by a licensed acupuncturist. Period.


Acupuncture is ancient medicine for modern times. It not only provides a safe and effective means to treat numerous conditions including pain without any side effects! Acupuncture helps boost the body’s natural ability to heal itself while restoring basics like energy and sleep. Give acupuncture a try first, before considering opioids or even surgery for your pain as it might just take a few sessions and you could avoid unnecessary drugs and surgery!


Why? Acupuncture works!


To learn how Dr. Ellie can help treat your chronic pain. Please give our office at call at (425) 686-4498 to schedule a consult.


Mayo Clinic. (2015, Feb 21). Tests and procedures: Acupuncture. Retrieved March 5, 2016, from

Kalichman, L. (2010). Dry needling in the management of musculoskeletal pain. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 23(5), 640-646.

Legge, D. (n.d.). A history of dry needling. Retrieved March 1, 2016, from

US Food and Drug Administration (2015). Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations. Retrieved March 2, 2016, from

US Food and Drug Administration (2016). MAUDE adverse event report: Acupuncture (filiform) needle acupuncture needle. Retrieved March 2, 2016, from

Call or Schedule Now! (425) 686-4498

Call or Schedule Now!

(425) 686-4498

Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc

  • Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
    Bastyr University
  • Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
    Bastyr University
  • Master’s Degree in Chemistry
    Northern Arizona University
Dr. Heintze Acupuncturist and Naturopathic Doctor

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