The confusion between dry needling and Acupuncture
There is constant confusion over the differences between dry needling and acupuncture from a patient’s point of view. I akin it to the difference between a “backyard” mechanic, and a fully trained mechanic. The backyard mechanic knows enough to fix a few problems but doesn’t have a deeper understanding of the workings of the vehicle he is trying to fix. Dry needling is a form of acupuncture performed largely by western health professionals such as osteopaths, myotherapists, chiropractors etc. They use what they’ve identified as “trigger points” in muscles to help relieve pain and relax the tissue. This falls under what the Chinese have for centuries called “ashi points”, basically meaning a tender point which isn’t a recognised acupuncture point. From a western medical perspective the approach is the same as with acupuncture, they know it works, but can’t explain how, they simply use identified “trigger points” to treat certain muscle groups. Chinese medicine however still uses their very comprehensive diagnostic method to diagnose musculoskeletal problems and formulate a treatment plan accordingly. Here in lies the problem with dry needling, for most they simply do a course spanning a few weekends and they are then allowed to needle. Chinese Medicine practitioners study for several years and undergo 400+ clinical hours before are qualified to needle the general public. Though I don’t believe any real harm can be done by dry needling, the public needs to be aware that they are not the same, and if dry needling didn’t achieve a satisfactory result, this doesn’t mean acupuncture won’t either. The case being that proper acupuncture will always achieve a better result than dry needling, simply due to the practitioner being better trained in the art and having a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanism at work. Attached is an article published by the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association in regards to their opinion on “dry needling”.