Dry needling and acupuncture may seem very similar. They both involve the insertion of long, thin needles into points along the body. They are also both used to treat a number of different medical conditions.
However, as practices, they really couldn’t be more different. While acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of ailments, dry needling is a modern procedure performed by physical therapists to target specific muscular pain. Follow along to gain a better understanding of the main differences between acupuncture and dry needling.
While acupuncture is rooted in centuries of practice and theory, dry needling was conceived in the 1980s to address tightness, pain, and cramps in muscles. While it is usually performed by physical therapists, a lack of regulation allows almost anyone to be trained and licensed in the practice. Given this, the results and experience of dry needling may vary significantly depending on where you get the procedure and who does it. In order for a physical therapist to administer dry needling on a patient, they must complete at least 54 hours of post professional training while also providing evidence of meeting certain expected competencies. This includes demonstrating skills and knowledge related to cognitive and psychomotor functioning.
Additionally, because dry needling is often done by a physical therapist, the costs can also get expensive, especially if your insurance does not cover it. As with any medical procedure, it is advisable that you consult a qualified doctor or a medical practitioner before seeking this treatment.
Dry needling involves the insertion of stainless steel needles into “trigger points,” or tight areas in the muscles. This is said to release tension and stimulate the muscle. However, to date, there has not been a lot of research conducted about the efficacy of dry needling. In fact, a study in 2017 found that stretching was just as effective as dry needling. While it does seem to be safe and effective for some, dry needling is limited in what it is used to treat, combined with the lack of research and potential price tag.
A component of traditional Chinese medicine established many centuries ago, acupuncture is a holistic treatment that is often used to boost the immune system, while also addressing a broad range of conditions including: chronic pain and inflammation, and various allergies, as well as many digestive, immune, respiratory, neurological, emotional, gynecological, and musculoskeletal conditions. Acupuncture is safe (FDA regulated), usually painless, has no known side effects, and has been proven to work in numerous peer reviewed medical studies. Most people feel relaxed or invigorated following each session.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of multiple needles into acupuncture points. The American Board of Medical Acupuncture (ABMA) requires 300 hours of training, with 200 hours through coursework that has been approved, equally divided between clinical and lecture-based instruction. There are over 2,000 acu-points throughout the body, connected by different pathways (meridians). Targeting certain points can balance the flow of energy in the body, stimulate the central nervous system, and address many different ailments. A trained and experienced acupuncturist will examine your unique circumstances and help you build a comprehensive treatment plan.
Dry Needling or Acupuncture: What Is Right For You?
Struggling to determine which treatment is right for you? Make a list of your symptoms! If you are experiencing anything more than muscle pain, you’ll probably want to consider acupuncture. A few sessions of acupuncture can target a wide variety of conditions, from muscle pain to asthma to anxiety. Acupuncture is easy, risk-free, and works relatively quickly. If you’re on the fence about it, there’s no reason not to try it!
If you are seeking a licensed, experienced acupuncturist in the Louisville, Kentucky area, consider contacting River City Wellness. At River City Wellness, authentic, compassionate service is our greatest priority. We offer acupuncture, herbal therapy, moxabustion, cupping, and much more. You can schedule an appointment online or call (502) 822-0626 for details.