What is dry needling and how does it differ from acupuncture?

What is dry needling and how does it differ from acupuncture?

Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity of taking Dr. Ma’s Integrative Dry Needling course in Rhode Island. If you're a medical doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor or occupational therapist looking to expand your manual skills, I highly recommend it. After receiving a number of questions from colleagues, friends and family over the weekend, I wanted to provide some brief information from the American Physical Therapy Association about DN and how it differs from acupuncture. Check back for blogs on the latest research, practical implications and the overall efficacy of dry needling as a therapeutic intervention.

What is dry needling?

"Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments. [It] is a technique used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle, fascia, and connective tissue, and to diminish persistent peripheral nociceptive input, and reduce or restore impairments in body structure and function, leading to improved activity and participation."

Source: APTA document Description of Dry Needling in Clinical Practice: An Educational Resource Paper. www.apta.org/StateIssues/DryNeedling/.

How is it different from acupuncture?

"Health care education and practice have developed in such a way that most professions today share some procedures, tools, or interventions with other regulated professions. It is unreasonable to expect a profession to have exclusive domain over an intervention, tool, or modality."

"The practice of acupuncture by acupuncturists and the performance of dry needling by physical therapists differ in terms of historical, philosophical, indicative, and practical context. The performance of modern dry needling by physical therapists is based on western neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous system. Physical therapists who perform dry needling do not use traditional acupuncture theories or acupuncture terminology."

Source: APTA document Physical Therapists & the Performance of Dry Needling: An Educational Resource Paper. www.apta.org/StateIssues/DryNeedling/.