I don’t think I’m alone here when I say that ‘Needle’ is a terrible word for the tool that we use. Let’s face it: the word, ‘needle’ invokes fear and causes negative associations with experiences in hospitals and doctors’ offices, when immunizations are given or blood is drawn.
Let’s start with a quick lesson in needle gauges. The diameter of a needle is determined by its’ gauge. Typical medical needles range from 7 gauge, (the largest) to 33 gauge, (the smallest). 21 gauge needles are most commonly used for drawing blood, and 16-17 gauge needles are used for blood donation.
The higher the gauge number, the smaller the needle width.
In my office, I use either 38 or 40 gauge acupuncture needles. Acupuncturists often describe them as being ‘hair-like, or ‘hair-fine’. They are not as thin as hair, but if you can think of a very thin, pliable wire that bends with the slightest pressure against the skin, that is an acupuncture needle.
For a while, I was surveying my patients to see what they felt an appropriate name would be to replace ‘needle’. My favorite one was ‘micro-filament’. I also like ‘wire’.