Jangled nerves: The Wartenberg wheel

Author: Lynn
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What is actually a Wartenberg wheel?

The Wartenberg wheel was named after the neurologist Robert Wartenberg, who developed the medical instrument for the neurological examination of pain perception. Also called the “Wartenberg needle wheel” or “ Wartenberg anesthesiometer”, it is usually made of stainless steel. There is a wheel with needles arranged in a star shape on a handle. In neurology, this instrument is then systematically rolled over the skin to check the patient’s sensation.

What types are there?

Hardly used anymore in medicine for hygienic reasons, the Wartenberg wheel is experiencing a true renaissance in BDSM circles. Adapted to a wide range of wishes and requirements, the “nerve wheels” are now available with multiple rows of needles, with single, double or triple wheels, as finger extensions, or with particularly long handles. There are also different materials, such as plastic for a soft entry or stainless steel for long-lasting pleasure.

A classic Wartenberg bike made of stainless steel.
Source: Stockpackshot I Dreamstime

What do you use a Wartenberg wheel for?

The Wartenberg wheel is used in BDSM to create controlled pain stimuli. Depending on the pressure, the stimulation ranges from pleasant shivers to bloody scratches on the bottom. For example, the insides of the thighs and upper arms, as well as the soles of the feet and the spine, are particularly sensitive to the stimulation of the Wartenberg needle wheel.

What do I have to consider when using it?

As always, the first priority is the consent of the person being played with. Needle phobia can be triggered by the Wartenberg wheel, even if it doesn’t actually involve needles. If you apply firm pressure, you can easily get bloody scratches, which then need to be disinfected to avoid inflammation. If you don’t like visible marks, you should let the wheel glide particularly gently over your skin.

Sensitive areas with thin skin, especially the face, should not be irritated with the nerve wheel. If you play so intensively that bleeding occurs, the bike must also be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after use. Wartenberg wheels made of stainless steel or surgical steel can also be boiled for this purpose.

What do I have to consider when purchasing?

Beginners should choose a wheel with blunt tips or a model made of plastic. If you want to play extreme games like Blood Play, you should make sure to prepare, clean and disinfect the toy well and also get the appropriate materials. Since the transition between pleasurable pain and unpleasant pain is fluid, it is not recommended to start with multi-row or multi-wheeled models if you have never felt this type of pain stimulus before.

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