Dry Needling vs Acupuncture. Is there really a difference?
People have been asking about dry needling versus acupuncture lately, and I thought I’d write a quick article to clear the air.
Acupuncture is a 2,000 to 4,000 year old form of medicine that views the body as a closed, complete system. It is based on movement of qi (equivalent to the life energy) through channels, called meridians. Obstruction of these channels can cause pain, disease, and dysfunction. Acupuncture needles help to stimulate the meridian and unblock the flow, helping to eliminate pain and dysfunction. In modern medicine, researchers have found that insertion of these needles can stimulate the nervous system to release chemicals that mitigate pain or influence the body’s hormones and regulatory systems.
Acupuncture can be used for musculoskeletal pain, but it is also very useful for gastrointestinal issues, fertility, hormone regulation, headaches, vertigo, respiratory disorders, and many others. Needles are inserted in particular meridian points to treat the condition. These needles are solid, unlike hollow hypodermic needles. They are very thin and many people feel little to no pain upon insertion and once the needle is in, there is either no sensation or only a mild dull ache. Because these needles are solid and very thin, the risk of bruising and skin irritation is less. Needles are disposable and sterile, so infection risk is minimal also.
To be able to perform acupuncture, a practitioner must receive training in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory. Naturopaths receive at least 200 hours of dedicated acupuncture training. They spend time learning needling techniques, point indications, and most importantly, safety.
At its core, dry needling is very simple acupuncture. While according to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) theory, an ailment can be treated both locally, but also along other points across the entire body, Dry Needling only treats the local area by inserting acupuncture needles into trigger points. This causes a small spasm in the muscle, which then causes the muscle to relax. The needles are not inserted into particular points or meridians, but just where the trigger point is. Dry Needling is indicated for muscular pain and is not useful for any other ailments. To perform dry needling, a practitioner only needs to require about 24 hours of education and little to no clinical training time.
I believe, while dry needling has a time and place, acupuncture is a more holistic approach to pain and has many other applications. Come see me and we can discuss how acupuncture can help you.