Yes and firstly we must describe what we mean by an “acupuncture needle”. They have little if any resemblance to the hypodermic needles that are seen in hospitals and doctors surgeries. The needles are physically as thin as a human hair. Patients are really surprised when they actually see just how small and flimsy the needles are and in many cases any fears about acupuncture are simply overcome. The picture below shows just how small in comparison to a match and sewing needle.
However for those patients who have anxieties regarding needles of any sort then there are genuine alternatives to consider depending on the patients particular concerns. For example if the main concern for the patient relates to the concept of piercing the skin then we can use Acupressure to stimulate the point. Rather than inserting a needle we use a metal probe placed on the surface of the skin. This probe is manipulated by the practitioner to activate the point on the patient and the skin is not pierced.
Another alternative is to use a similar type of probe as used in acupressure but also introduce a small electrical signal where the acupuncture point is located. We call this Electro-Stimulation. Electro-Stimulation is very similar to a TENS machine that you may have seen available in some pharmacies. The acupuncturist rests the probe on the skin and a small electric current is applied. There is a slight tingling sensation.
Acupressure is where we stimulate the Acupuncture points with a metal probe. The skin is not pierced at all. It is often used when a patient has a fear of needles or when for various reason we are unable to pierce a patient’s skin. Example of this includes patients who are at risk from Lymphedema, or open wounds at the site of the Acupuncture location.