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Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 825751, 4 pages
Research Article

Double-Blind Acupuncture Needle: A Potential Tool to Investigate the Nature of Pain and Pleasure

1Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Faculty of Health Sciences, Tokyo Ariake University of Medical and Health Sciences, 2-9-1 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0063, Japan
2Department of Physiology, Showa University School of Medicine, Tokyo 142-8555, Japan
3Japan School of Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Physiotherapy, Tokyo 150-0031, Japan
4Program in Placebo Studies, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA

Received 21 June 2013; Accepted 16 July 2013

Academic Editors: R. Rokyta and B.-C. Shin

Copyright © 2013 Nobuari Takakura et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Most of our knowledge about similarities in the neural processing of painful and pleasant sensations in the brain derives from studying each phenomenon separately. Patients often feel pain induced by acupuncture, which is noxious stimulation having the symbolic message of the cure, as pleasant. Objectives. We investigated whether the double-blind acupuncture needles are a potential tool to investigate coinciding pain and pleasant events. Methods. Participants were 109 healthy acupuncture students. An acupuncturist applied the double-blind placebo and the matching penetrating needle at bilateral forearm of each subject, one needle on each side of the arm. We asked the subjects to rate the pain associated with needle application and its unpleasantness or pleasantness on a visual analogue scale. Results. Of 65 penetrating needle applications that elicited pain, 29 (45%) subjects did not describe the pain as being unpleasant, and interestingly, 18 (28%) subjects described the needle insertion as pleasant. There was no significant difference in reported pain intensity between penetrating needles elicited pain that elicited a pleasant sensation and those that elicited an unpleasant sensation ( ). Conclusions. The double-blind acupuncture needles can be a potential tool for investigating the concomitant hedonic (pleasure) experience of pain.