How many needles are used?

How many needles an acupuncturist uses in each acupuncture session varies depending on:

  • The style and technique used by your acupuncturist
  • How sensitive you are to the needles
  • Your age
  • Your general health

Some acupuncturists prefer to use very few needles, some prefer to use a lot. There is a Japanese style acupuncture technique called ‘shigo’ which just uses one acupuncture needle, but this is rarely practiced in the UK. 

There are at least 361 documented acupuncture points, but using all of them at once would be impossible, wasteful, and pretty cruel. The typical number of points used is around 4-20 needles per session.

I personally use quite a lot of acupuncture needles (around 20 per session), as my sessions are long enough so I can do some points on the back, and some on the front - so they add up! I tend to use more needles if you have multiple health issues, respond slowly to the treatment, and have good general energy levels. I would choose to use fewer needles if you seem very nervous or tired, and for the elderly or children under 10 or so.

If you are very sensitive to the needles, your acupuncturist will usually use less points, however, if you have certain areas of numbness in the body your acupuncturist might use many needles in that area.

In general, if you are in good health physically, you can expect to have fair amount of needles. If you are frail or very weak physically, using too many needles will only exhaust you further so your practitioner may only use a few well chosen points.

Every acupuncturist is different, if you’re worried about the number of needles just speak to your practitioner who should help you feel at ease. Remember you can always ask for any treatment to stop at any point (...pun intended 🤓)