Whether you’re a student or a practicing acupuncturist, sometimes choosing an acupuncture needle size can be confusing as there is so much choice!
Generally, acupuncture needles vary by needle length, needle gauge (thickness) and handle style. Which needle you choose can depend on what style of acupuncture you were taught, the area of the body you wish to treat and what you feel comfortable with.
When deciding on length, you should assess the area of the body you are looking to needle. Are the points on the face, limbs or the abdomen? How is the patient built – are they big or small? It is important to choose the correct length to ensure safety of your patient.
Short acupuncture needles (3mm – 7mm) – use for shallow areas of the body such as the face, hands, ears or scalp.
Medium length acupuncture needles (13mm – 40mm) – these are most commonly used as they can be used in many areas of the body such as the face, hands, feet, arms, lower legs, abdomen, shoulders and back.
Long acupuncture needles (50mm and above) – these needles are longer and are used for areas of the body with more muscle and fat, such as the legs or the gluteal region. These needles can also be used for deep insertion points on lower back and hip, or special points. Needles can go up to 125mm but these are generally reserved for larger patients.
Thickness or Gauge
Japanese styles of acupuncture generally favour thinner needles, in comparison to Chinese acupuncture. However it can also be down to your personal preference. Some patients can be more sensitive or fearful of needles, so you may opt for thinner needles such as those with a 0.16mm or 0.18mm gauge for a 30mm length needle. Some styles of acupuncture call for thicker needles with diameters of 0.35mm to 0.50mm, as it is claimed that more Qi can be felt and stimulated.
The below chart shows the variety of thicknesses that you can choose. All Phoenix acupuncture needles are colour coded with a sticker on the box. If you use a guide-tube, the tab will also be colour coded.
Thin needles (0.12 – 0.18mm) are suited to areas of the body which are shallow, such as the face, ears, scalp, hands and feet.
Needles with a thickness of 0.20 – 0.25mm are generally used for all other areas of the body.
Thicker needles with 0.30 – 0.50mm gauge may be used for the legs and gluteal areas.
For further information, you may want to contact your teacher for more guidance. If you need any help from the team on choosing a needle, we are just a phone call away! Please call us on +44 (0) 1245 350822 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask us any questions.
Please note that this information is intended for qualified acupuncturists only. Do not attempt to perform acupuncture or dry needling if you are not professionally trained.