Fear of Needles? Can You Overcome It?

Two arms reaching for each otherHave you ever known someone who is afraid of needles? As an acupuncturist I certainly have met my fair share of individuals. Also, as someone who spent her fair share of time in the military where shots abound, I’ve seen some extraordinary responses people have to needles. Between the two, here’s what I have found to be true.

1. Being afraid of needles is no small thing and there can be many reasons why someone has a fear. It could be related to a past trauma, or someone could have highly sensitive responses to physical stimuli. Also, a true phobia does exist called Trypanophobia-which is an extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles.

2. Needle Shock is a real thing, even if you don’t think you may have a fear of needles. Your body can respond in a way that presents with the following symptoms when you are first needled, usually due to anticipation (PLEASE KNOW if you don’t have a fear it is extremely rare to experience them):

  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • anxiety
  • high blood pressure
  • racing heart rate

Extreme Fear or Phobia add these possible symptoms:

  • insomnia
  • panic attacks
  • feeling emotionally or physically violent
  • avoiding or running away from medical care
  1. If you haven’t had a trauma or hold a phobia, a large contributor to the fear of the needles is anticipation. When people don’t know what to expect they may conjure up the worst ideas in their heads on how something may feel. This is particularly true if you associate needles with getting a shot.

How is getting needled in acupuncture different?

  1. It is nothing like getting a shot. The needles an acupuncturist uses can be as fine as a hair. They do not have holes in the middle, which means they don’t injure the tissue like a hypodermic needle does (the ones you get shots with). What they do is move around the tissue so as not to damage it. The initial insertion may feel like a mosquito bite (if you even feel it), however once they are in, most people don’t even realize they are there.
  2. You can overcome your anxiety about needles if you have a good acupuncturist. Because being needled doesn’t hurt, if you are willing to calmly be walked through the procedure and learn good breathing techniques you will find that having acupuncture is really quite relaxing. There are many techniques that can be employed to calm you through the process. I have seen people with sensitivities to being needled return over and over because they find the outcome of the treatment far outweighs any sensation that they go through.
  3. If your fear is so overwhelming you wouldn’t even see an acupuncturist, Guided Imagery Therapy can help. Intra-Personal Guided Imagery Therapy can be used for any fears or phobias to go straight to the root of the fear and heal it. If you have had a trauma, or your fear is so severe that you couldn’t even fathom getting acupuncture this is the therapy for you! (Then you can go see an acupuncturist 🙂

If you could overcome a fear, reduce your anxiety, and feel better in a myriad of ways would you be willing to try? Acupuncture can help improve so many areas of life by reducing pain and anxiety, improving depression and sleep, assisting you with handling daily stressors, and so much more.  I invite you to take a deep breath, ask yourself if trying something new can get you to a better place, and reaching out if the answer is yes. If you are willing to take it slow, work with someone who has your best interest in mind, and begin to heal on all levels please let us know how we can best assist you.

Photo by youssef naddam on Unsplash