According to the ancient literature record, acupuncture needles could be classified into nine types. Their shapes and applications were elucidated as follows.
1. Chan needle
As shown in the left pic. Around 1.6 Cun (1Cun is equal to about 3.3 cm) long. With big head and sharp end, like an arrow. It is mainly used for superficial prick on skin to dispersing heat.
2. Yuan needle
Also around 1.6 Cun long. Round body and top, like a massage stick. And yes, you guess is correct it is used for massage to relieve pain, or stiffness on skin or in muscles.
3. Di needle
Around 4 Cun long, with thick body and thin but round tip (like a very small pill). It is used for pressing on pulse to generate more Qi.
4. Feng needle
Around 1.6 Cun long. The body has three sharp edges, used for bleeding. It is actually so-called “three-edge needle” (San Ling Zhen).
5. Pi needle
Around 4 Cun in length and 0.25 Cun in width. Looks like a sword. It is used for treating furuncle or abscess.
6. Yuan Li needle
Around 1.6 Cun long. Round but sharp, the middle of body is a bit thick. It is used to treat acute arthralgia or rheumatism.
7. Hao needle
It is the most common used needle, length ranges from 1.6 to 3.6 Cun. Very thin body with sharp tip, applicable for many common problems.
8. Chang needle
Around 7 Cun long, with thick body and sharp tip. It is also called “Mang needle” (Mang is a Chinese spelling, with the meaning as “awn” in English). Chang needle is used to treat deep arthralgia or rheumatism.
9. Da needle
Around 4 Cun long, with thick body and a little bit sharp tip (not as sharp as Hao needle). It is used to treat edema in joints.
In thousand of years people have developed more than nine kinds of needles. We have introduced some in “acupuncture” part. In addition, there are so-called Feng Gou needle, Huo Pi needle, small needle and knife, etc. We will introduce them in the future.