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  • Dr. Mark Freund

Dry Needling Vs. Acupuncture

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

dry needling and acupuncture

Dry needling and acupuncture seem to be synonymous, and the tools used in both services illustrate the similarities. If one looks at the images describing the practice, it seems impossible to distinguish the two. One practice has been used as an alternative treatment for thousands of years and has robust efficacy studies. The other has been introduced in recent decades, adopted by a few health care providers and medical associations in the United States.

One is designed to relieve pain and discomfort by opening a person's energy flow (chi). The other is designed to stimulate the trigger points of irritated muscles, such as the muscles of the back, neck, shoulders, and back muscles.

Knowing the difference can help you decide which type of treatment is right for you. Let’s examine further the difference between dry needling therapy and acupuncture and its advantages and disadvantages.

Difference Between Dry Needling and Acupuncture

The difference between dry needling and acupuncture goes beyond the use of needles and the difference in the quality of treatment and its effectiveness. Many physiotherapists are certified to perform treatments with dry needling, and many of them are committed to restoring the normal function of the body and improving overall quality of life.

dry needling

The main difference between dry needling and acupuncture is the use of a dry needle instead of the traditional acupuncture needle. In both practices, a needle is inserted into a specific point to relieve pain and then dried. Both acupuncture and dry needling are performed by specific specialists with different training. In addition, there are various medical tools used of different shapes and sizes, different needle types, and different methods.

Dry needling and acupuncture are both used to treat chronic and acute pain without the use of medication or surgery.

Both techniques are based on the idea that the pain is the result of a larger nerve or muscle problem and not just the main pain area. Instead of inserting a needle only in the "pain area," a doctor can insert the needle at any point around the pain area.

The treatment of the dry needle is a relatively new treatment based on modern Western medicine, developed in the 1980s. During this treatment, a needle was inserted into a sensitive muscle band located in a large muscle. When the needle is inserted at the trigger point, it triggers a reaction that releases the trigger point and restores normal function. But here's where the similarities end, with dry needling and acupuncture, they come from different medical reasons. The main difference is the purpose of the procedure. Acupuncture is used to relieve pain and treat health problems by altering the flow of chi, while dry needling uses evidence-based techniques to treat certain diseases.

performing dry needling on patient

The last difference is the penetration site. Dry needling penetrates the skin at certain trigger points, releases tension, and triggers a healing reaction. The difference between acupuncture and dry needling is that the needle is inserted into a line of points or meridians during an acupuncture session. In order to restore balance and the correct flow of energy to the patient's body, acupuncture targets points or meridians that represent the organs of the body.

What Is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a modern treatment that is supposed to relieve muscle pain. it involves inserting a thin needle into specific parts of the body and the procedure is often used as part of a larger treatment plan.

Dry needling (also known as myofascial point needles) is the most common form of acupuncture in the US and in many countries. Dry needling is a form of therapy that relieves muscle pain, tension, and cramps by improving mobility and restoring function. It is designed to treat neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement disorders and is one of the most popular forms of acupuncture for treating muscle and joint pain.

In dry needling therapy, several thin monofilaments (needles) are inserted into the trigger points. In most cases, dry needling treatments are included in the treatment plans, which also take into account traditional procedures. The specialists who perform dry needling are certified for this therapeutic method.

How Dry Needling Works

The professional therapist who guides the drying needle will use a new sterile needle during the procedure. Therefore, the risk of bleeding or bruising at the specific injection site due to a blood-borne disease should not be a cause for concern. This is typically common and can sometimes cause pain, bleeding, and bruising around the injection site.

physiotherapist doing dry needling on patient

Dry needling therapy is performed by penetrating the skin with filaments (needles) and leaving the points in the muscle for 10-30 minutes. During Dry needling treatment, nothing is injected into the patient and the needles must be completely dry, which is true to their name of "dry needling."

There are two other variants: the in-and-out technique and non-trigger points technique also called sparrow pecking or pistoning. In the injection / in-and-out technique, a specialist inserts a needle into the intended release point and removes the needle. The technique of non-trigger points is self-explanatory: the specialist inserts the needle into the muscle surrounding the trigger point, avoiding the exact area itself. In dry needling, a doctor inserts several filiform needles under the skin. The filiform needle is embedded with a fine, short stainless steel needle that does not inject any fluid into the body.

This is sometimes referred to as intramuscular stimulation, and the doctor inserts a needle into the trigger point of the muscle tissue. The point is an area of knotted or hard muscles, so it can cause pain and discomfort in the patient. This technique is based on inserting and inserting the needle, i.e. it does not remain on the skin for long. The needle is pricked at the trigger point and then removed, usually not for more than a few seconds. The needle remains under the skin for a short time, but the duration depends on the patient and the person treating him.

Medical practitioners such as physiotherapists and masseurs are trained in dry needling therapy. Dry needling is usually performed by physiotherapists and sports injury therapists, but the training, approval, and monitoring process is controlled and regulated. Currently, dry needling students do not need comprehensive training and, as there is no reference point, it is up to you to decide whether a person's training is legitimate and satisfactory.

Advantages of Dry Needling

The advantage of dry needling is that it is less invasive and less painful. It can also be more efficient and more effective than acupuncture in some cases. Dry needling can provide a more effective and less invasive treatment for a variety of conditions and they are often recommended, but there are risks associated with them but serious risks are extremely rare, so it is best to be aware of the risks and benefits of acupuncture, as well as the benefits and risks of dry needling.

electroacupuncture dry with needle on knee

Both techniques of treatment with dry needling treat the wider landscape of the central nervous system. Dry needling can relieve muscle pain and stiffness, and in addition, loosening trigger points can improve flexibility and increase the range of motion.

It can help you find pain relief, muscle relaxation, and muscle recovery. This is why this method is often used to treat chronic pain and even fibromyalgia, as well as other chronic diseases such as arthritis, joint and muscle arthritis, muscle spasms, joint pain, and muscle stiffness.

Although there are currently no guidelines for this practice, the safe method of drying needling will be standardized as more research becomes available. Most of the existing research on dry needling supports the practice of relieving mild to moderate pain. Research supporting the use of dry needlings is limited, but research says it is safe and effective for a variety of conditions. Make sure your doctor uses sterile needles. If you use an unsterilized needle, you are at a greater risk of contracting blood diseases, infections, and other diseases.

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is based on restoring balance and the correct flow of energy in our body. Acupuncture is currently being researched in greater depth and doctors and chiropractors are regulated by training and practice.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

putting acupuncture needles

In this procedure, a thinner stainless steel needle is used and is inserted under the skin to treat pain. In acupuncture, the needle is usually left in place for 15-30 minutes and the lines are rearranged. These lines represent the organs of the body and are based on ancient Chinese medicine and represent different parts of the body. It is most commonly used to treat pain, headaches, nausea, fatigue, muscle spasms, neck, back, neck, and other body parts.

Is Dry Needling and Acupuncture A Treatment For You?

At Natural Chiropractic Care, we would be happy to talk to you to discuss how to regain freedom and pain - a free life with dry needling and acupuncture and help patients suffering from chronic pain, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other illnesses. Acupuncture and dry needling are just one of the safe, effective, and non-invasive treatments that we offer at our practice and you can learn more about our services and holistic treatments by checking our website or by contacting us directly.

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