Many people will not try acupuncture because they are afraid that the needles will hurt or that the experience will be unpleasant. This is really a tragedy, as acupuncture has the capacity to effectively treat a variety of chronic health conditions that typically do not respond to other forms of intervention.
In my practice, I have used acupuncture to treat both children and adults. In fact, I have done full acupuncture treatments on kids as young as 4, including needling points on the face, scalp, hands, and feet. Even patients this age typically do not experience any discomfort that lasts for more than a second or two.
The truth of the matter is that nobody really likes needles. We are generally conditioned to have an aversion to them because of the trauma involved in getting shots and other procedures using hypodermic needles. It is always funny when a new patient comes in and confesses in a voice that suggest their situation is utterly unique, 'I don't like needles.' Most new patients make this confession-- and most are very surprised by how pleasant the treatment actually is, even though it involves needles.
There are times where you can feel an insertion prick with the needles that lasts for a couple of seconds. You can also feel a nervy sensation that radiates through the area being worked on for a brief period of time. Other sensations include a dull achiness or pressure around the needles.
Many traditional Chinese doctors use a more aggressive style of needling that involves strong stimulation and thick needles. I have found this to be a turnoff for many Westerners, as excellent results can be achieved without having to induce strong sensations around the needles.
If you are interested in acupuncture but are reluctant to try it because of the potential pain involved in treatment, I encourage you to move through that fear, as you will likely find acupuncture to be a pleasant, gentle, and very effective form of treatment for your health care needs.