Why are different handle types used in acupuncture?
The “classic (or traditional) Chinese acupuncture needle”
with copper loop handle
Until about 50 years ago, acupuncture needles with copper handles used to be the dominant form of acupuncture needles. This had practical reasons as acupuncture needles were traditionally produced in China in manufactories. Copper is a very flexible material and so the easiest of all metals to wrap around a needle shaft.
When used as a material for the handle, copper gives the acupuncture needle a certain softness and flexibility. This allows a sensitive, experienced acupuncturist to directly feel a patient’s response to a treatment and to control the intensity of needling. A flexible handle also provides the acupuncturist with a direct feedback on how the patient responds to the treatment. The highly conductive handle is also ideal for a warming treatment of the acupuncture points, e.g. by means of moxibustion. The good conductivity of the copper handle makes it possible to use this needle also for treatment with stimulating currents. This needle type is very well suited for, and preferred by, experienced therapists.
The “modern acupuncture needle”
with plastic handle
In the 1970s, thanks to the advanced injection molding technology, production methods for manufacturing cannula needles were applied in the production of acupuncture needles with plastic handles. The handle was fused directly around the needle shaft. For this production method, also extruded plastic tubes may be used. The tubes are glued to the steel needle to form a handle by means of special adhesive techniques. The advantage of plastic handles is their relative rigidity. This handle, in conjunction with an excellently ground needle tip, makes it easier for a less experienced acupuncturist to position an acupuncture needle safely and painlessly. Acupuncture needles with plastic handles are not suitable for moxibustion treatment. For electro-stimulation therapy, connectors can be attached directly to the needle shaft. However, it is not guaranteed they will stay in place.
The „japaniese acupuncture needle“
with inflexible metal tube handle
Besides the “classic or traditional” chinesse acupuncture needle with a copper loop handle, there were developed tubes mad of metal, that were connected to the needle by grouting. These handles are also suitable for electro-stimulation therapy and moxibustion, as moxa products can easily be slipped over the loopless handle.
The “Korean acupuncture needle”
with Korean style spring handle without loop
In one handle version from Korea, a stainless steel wire is wound into a tight spring wire. In this way, a long stainless steel wire creates a spring coil, which forms a thin tube without a loop. These tubes are then used as handles for acupuncture needles. However, by using the relatively rigid wire, the steel wire cannot be wound directly around the needle. Instead, the handle tube is connected to the needle mechanically. These needles, like the needles with the copper loop handle, are suitable for both electro-stimulation therapy and moxibustion. However, the handle is much more rigid than a copper handle. It thus gives the physician a less direct feedback on treatment success than is the case with a copper handle needle. The advantage of this handle is purely visual in that a stainless steel handle does not tarnish over time, which may be the case with copper after longer storage time.
Acupuncture needles with Korean style spring handle
without loop for hand acupuncture
Needles for hand acupuncture differ in length and diameter from the needles used for body acupuncture. Specially manufactured needles for hand acupuncture have very small diameters (0.16 mm to 0.2 mm are standard sizes) and short shafts (0.5 cm to 1.5 cm), but a “standard” handle of 2 cm.
Semi-permanent needles are used mainly, but not exclusively, for ear acupuncture.
In this method, acupuncture points are treated with a relatively mild continuous stimulation over a longer period of time (3-7 days on average). This facilitates better results, especially when treating chronic diseases.
Semi-permanent needles – asiamed Apex and asiamed Apex Gold
One form of sterile semi-permanent needles, originating from French ear acupuncture, has been in use since the late 1970s. This semi-permanent needle is slightly thicker, shaped like an arrow head, and comes in a small applicator tube. The needle can be positioned at the desired point by gently and uniformly advancing the applicator’s pressure stamp. The applicator tube allows much easier and more accurate needle application. At the end of the applicator tube there is also a magnetic disk, which each patient can use to magnetically stimulate their needles several times a day over the duration of the treatment.
Ring press needles – asiamed Press Tack Needle
The classic model of the semi-permanent needle, the “press tack needle”, is known since the 1950s. It has a shape similar to a thumbtack but unlike a pin, its “pressure surface” is not a solid plate but a bent steel spring, which tapers inwards towards the centre. Its centred end forms a needle that is bent by 90 degrees. The steel spring is embedded in a double plaster. The individual needles on the plaster can be simply lifted off the base using a pair of tweezers. Gentle pressure with the thumb or forefinger will position the needle on the desired acupuncture point.
Intradermal needles are made of medical-grade stainless steel used for acupuncture needles. They are inserted into the skin at a shallow angle and then fixed with a plaster, so that they do not fall out even if they remain in the skin for a longer time. This ensures long-term stimulation of certain acupuncture points. asiamed intradermal needles are available in three different sizes.