What Is the Difference Between Acupuncture and Dry Needling?

What Is the Difference Between Acupuncture and Dry Needling?

Acupuncture and dry needling appear to be very similar, and both are offered at ProFysio. Both use thin, stainless steel needles that are inserted into the skin and both work to treat pain. In 2016, the American Medical Association adopted a policy stating that physical therapists and other non-physicians practicing dry needling should have standards that are similar to the ones required for acupuncture education.

However, there are some distinct differences between the two. Let’s walk through the two practices and gain an understanding of which might be best for your condition.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that uses needles to target specific “meridians” on the body in order to open up one’s energy flow, or qi. Specifically, qi, sometimes called chi, is the energy flow along the pathways that connect acupuncture points on the body. The “meridians” connect to internal organs in the body. Acupuncture needles use pressure or heat to manipulate points on the body and improve a person’s qi.

Studies have shown that acupuncture brings relief for a variety of diseases, symptoms and conditions for musculoskeletal and neurological disorders including headache and migraine, TMJ, facial palsy, stroke-related symptoms and more. Acupuncture can also be used to bring mental-emotional stability, relief to the upper respiratory tract and the respiratory system, help with disorders of the eye and mouth and with gastro-intestinal disorders.

Dry Needling

Dry needling is also offered at ProFysio Physical Therapy, and it is a more modern treatment designed to provide instant and lasting relief from underlying muscle aches, trigger points and spasms. The name “dry” comes from the fact that the needles do not inject fluid into the body. A member of our team would place needles in “trigger points” in areas of knotted or hard muscle in the tissue in order to provide relief.

When a trigger point is prodded by the needle, it can encourage a rapid decrease in stress and pain throughout the body. Patients who can find healing through dry needling include those suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis or golf elbow, TMJ, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, neck pain and headaches and lower back pain.

As you can see, there is some overlap between patients who would benefit from acupuncture and those who would benefit from dry needling, and the choice can be left up to personal preference and priority. If your goal is to relieve tightness and pain in muscles, dry needling might be best for you. If you are more focused on holistic healing of the body, acupuncture is likely more up your alley.

To learn more about what treatments we offer to bring you relief from pain, call us at (732) 812-5200 or contact us online today!

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