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dry needling

The Differences Between Dry Needling and Acupuncture, Explained

Trying to find ways to alleviate pain and improve function can be difficult, as each individual injury is unique.  Acupuncture and dry needling are both treatment options that have proven to be effective for people suffering from pain. 

While they are similar in some ways, they also have differences as well. Knowing the differences between the two can be beneficial in choosing treatment options.

What Is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a therapeutic technique performed by physical therapists with advanced specialty training.  The technique is termed “dry” needling because no substrate is injected during the procedure.  Dry needling is based on Western medical principles and is a  evidenced based treatment.  The therapist inserts a small, sterile, solid filament needle into a pathologic area of muscle also known as trigger points.  

A trigger point is a tight band or knot in the muscle. Treating these trigger points will evoke a healing response to alleviate the painful neuromuscular condition.

How Does Dry Needling Work?

When the needle is inserted in the trigger point, there may be a twitch response and a favorable bio-chemical response as well as increasing blood flow in the muscle.  The dry needling treatment effects will aid the muscle in returning to it’s normal, relaxed state over time.  The needle stays in the muscle for a certain amount of time depending on the condition being treated and techniques utilized.

Benefits of Dry Needling

Within a few visits, patients typically experience positive effects from the dry needling treatment including reduced pain, improved strength, and improved activity tolerance.

Dry needling is safe and effective.  It is commonly used to treat neck pain, headaches, TMJ dysfunction, low back pain, SI joint dysfunction, ITB syndrome, plantar fasciitis, tennis/ golfers elbow, and shoulder pain.  

You can find fast relief when using dry needling as a pain reliever and accelerate your recovery.  

Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture

While these both use similar types of needles to treat pain, there are differences between the two. 

Acupuncture treats many different medical conditions often systemic conditions that effect the whole body. The philosophy behind acupuncture treatment is to balance the flow of energy or chi through the meridian pathways in the body.  A number of needles are placed along meridians and stay inserted for usually around 20-25 minutes. Acupuncture has been around for many years, as it is an ancient technique upon Eastern philosophy.

Dry needling is more focused on treating specific points of musculoskeletal pathology and pain.  It is a more recently developed treatment approach that is supported by research to be effective for many orthopedic conditions.  Fewer needles are used during a dry needling treatment session and they typically do not stay inserted for as long as they do in acupuncture.

Find Pain Relief Today

Pain can keep you from living to your fullest potential and can stand in the way of things.

Using dry needling can improve your pain and get you back to the life you want to have.

Contact us if you would like to schedule a session using dry needling or have any questions or concerns.