Dry Needling vs Acupuncture

Have you ever been interested in dry needling (DN)? Have you ever had acupuncture done? Have you ever wondered what the difference is between the two? Acupuncture has a history dating back over 8,000 years from the Chinese. Acupuncture was documented in book form around 304-204 B.C. in the Nei Jing, the earliest book written on Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture is the use of a small needle placed along a Meridian line, a line of energy or map of energy in the body. It is believed to alter the body’s energy (Qi) to give a relaxation response, have a positive effect on health, and more. Research on acupuncture since the 1950’s has been widely studied, and there are many physiological changes that occur from acupuncture. 

However, other than the small needle and some of the physiological benefits described in acupuncture literature, DN is entirely different. In recent years, DN has become a popular topic within the medical community. However, DN has been in practice since the 1960s. It became quite popular in 1983, when Janet G. Travell M.D. and David G. Simons M.D. published their book where they described injecting medicine into muscles. Many physicians began implementing these practices into their treatment of pain conditions, by injecting pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs into painful bundles of muscle (trigger points). Many physical therapists began adopting these same practices without injections while still using the same techniques for relief of pain which is how dry needling came to be. 

The American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT) both describe their stance on DN: “Research supports that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, normalizes biochemical and electrical dysfunction of motor end plates, and facilitates an accelerated return to active rehabilitation.” 2 DN is an effective treatment option for individuals with acute injuries such as muscle strains and ligament sprains, as well as chronic injuries such as headaches, golfer’s elbow, shoulder impingement, and tennis elbow. 

The goal of the DN session is to target the muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves that are the root of these pain and inflammation based conditions. While many medications target the pain and decrease the inflammation in the whole body, the DN is targeted specifically at the problematic tissues. Your physical therapist may utilize these techniques as another means of getting you back to functioning and living your life. If you or a family member feels that DN may be beneficial for you, please do not hesitate to call and schedule an appointment. We have multiple therapists trained in various schools of DN to give you the optimal change of a swift recovery.

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