Yes and no. A whole acupuncture procedure including inserting needles, keeping and manipulating needles, taking out needles. Pain in the three parts are different.
1. Insert and take out needles
For experienced practitioner this is almost no pain, except that the patient’s pain threshold is very low. There are a lot of skills to make a painless inserting needles. For well-educated and trained practitioners that’s not a problem. Of course for some specific points like Taixi, Dadun, due to tight nerve distribution, pain (or electric pulse feeling) is inevitable. An explain in advance would be accepted for most of receivers.
2. Manipulate needles
To generate stronger and quicker, or certain orientation effects, we sometimes need to manipulate needles. Common manipulations include lifting-insering, twirling, and some comprehensive manipulations such as “burning mountain fire”, “passing through heaven cool”, etc. During manipulation the patients can usually feel an “exacerbated” pain, numbness, sourness, distension, electric pulse, etc, which can be conducted to the distal limbs, or disease locations.
In acupuncture treatment, “pain” is even better than “painlessness” because pain is usually a good stimulation to the central nervous system (CNS) that may suggest CNS should work now. It is a saying “no pain, no gain”, isn’t it?