In our practice, we perform advanced dry needling as part of our acupuncture practice. We treat the areas of trigger and motor points and also associated points and meridians – therefore, advance dry needling.
You should be very careful about choosing a practitioner who claims to provide dry needling. Always ask how many hours of training the health practitioner has in dry needling and where the education was obtained.
Here are few facts you should know about the illegal and unsafe practice of acupuncture under the term “dry needling:
1. “Dry needling” is acupuncture.
“Dry needling” was first described over 2,000 years ago in China’s earliest and most comprehensive extant medical treatise, the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic (Huangdi Neijing), where it discusses in detail using tender or painful points, also known as “trigger points” or “motor points,” to treat pain and dysfunction, particularly of the neuromusculoskeletal system. Simply described, “dry needling” involves inserting an acupuncture needle into a tender or painful point and then appropriately manipulating (rotating and/or pistoning) it for therapeutic purposes.
2. Tender or painful points, also known as “trigger points” or “motor points,” are acupuncture points.
Tender or painful points are located in muscles and connective tissues, and, as their name suggests, are identified through tenderness or pain on palpation. This was, in fact, one of acupuncture’s earliest forms of point selection. China’s preeminent physician, Sun Si-Miao (581–682 C.E.), called these tender or painful points “ashi” points. In Chinese, ashi means Ah yes! (That’s the right spot.). So, when the tender or painful point is pressed, the patient feels an unexpected local and/or referred “wince-pain” and says Ah yes! That’s the right spot. Incidentally, in a 1977 study published in Pain (the official journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain), Melzack, Stillwell and Fox established that “every trigger point [reported in the Western medical literature] has a corresponding acupuncture point.”* A number of studies subsequently published in the Western medical literature have reached this same basic conclusion.
* Source: Melzack R, Stillwell DM, Fox EJ. Trigger points and acupuncture points for pain: correlations and implications. Pain. 1977 Feb;3(1):3–23.
3. “Dry needling” is not “manual therapy;” it is acupuncture.
It is important to emphasize that “dry needling” is an invasive acupuncture needle intervention (that is, it is acupuncture, a specialized form of minimally invasive surgery), whereas manual therapy is a non-invasive, hands-on intervention (for example, massage, mobilization/manipulation). Manual therapy certainly does not include the practice of surgery in any form.
4. “Dry needling” is not a “technique;” it is acupuncture.
To make clear, the act of inserting an acupuncture needle into the body, under any pretense or for any purpose whatsoever, is the practice of acupuncture. To be absolutely clear about acupuncture: acupuncture has many modalities, but basically, we can divide acupuncture into two modalities: energetic work – work throughout meridians or channels, and local symptomatic modality. We combine both for better results.