With more and more practitioners practicing dry needling, more people are hearing about dry needling. So what is it, and how does it compare to acupuncture?
What Is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a technique focused on releasing trigger points. Dry needling is also known as trigger point acupuncture or intramuscular manual therapy. Trigger points are tight bands of tissue in muscles, sometimes referred to as “knots.” These areas of tension can result in stubborn pain that can sometimes radiate, or refer, pain to other areas of the body.
There are many ways to address trigger points, but dry needling, or trigger point acupuncture, is a very effective way to quickly break up trigger points. A small needle is used at the site of the trigger point. Often, muscle contractions can be felt during treatment, and many times relief or reduction of pain is instant. However, additional treatment is often needed to ensure that results maintain and symptoms do not return.
What’s the Difference Between Acupuncture and Dry Needling?
There is a lot of confusion on the similarities and differences between dry needling and acupuncture. First, let’s talk about acupuncture.
Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years. It is evidence based and extremely effective for a wide variety of issues, including pain conditions, digestive issues, fertility troubles, stress, anxiety, and more. In the practice of acupuncture, there are many styles and approaches to treatment, which allows it to be personalized based on the patient and specific condition being treated. One of those styles is trigger point acupuncture or dry needling. Acupuncturists often take a whole body approach, meaning we will address the whole body in addition to the trigger point. Acupuncturists are experts in needling with at least a Master’s degree level of education if not a Doctorate. This allows us to employ a variety of needling techniques to effectively and comfortably address your concerns related to pain as well as many other conditions. Additionally, acupuncturists have training in other manual therapies, cupping, herbal medicine, and more to help you obtain optimal results.
Next, let’s talk about dry needling. Recently, we’ve seen chiropractors and physical therapists add dry needling into their scope of practice. Chiropractors and physical therapists are only trained in dry needling, so they will only focus on the trigger point or area of pain. Typically, certification for dry needling by chiropractors or physical therapists is only 24 hours of training. Chiropractors and physical therapists are not trained in additional needling styles to treat additional, non-pain complaints or utilize different needling techniques. However, a chiropractor or physical therapist may be able to add in additional manual therapies, such as adjustments or prescribed exercises.
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