Dry needling is a health therapy or technique used for pain relief. Like Acupuncture, this treatment technique uses needles inserted into the body. It is called “dry” because the needles are not syringes but instead acupuncture needles. It differs from traditional Acupuncture in that the needles are actively manipulated with the intent of causing involuntary twitching and an aim to relax the muscle. This technique is a new name for an old technique. Trigger Point Acupuncture is the same method.
Physical therapists and physicians with proper training can practice dry needling. The typical treatment determines if there is a misbehaving muscle or muscle group related to your source of pain…. typically, noticeably tight muscles. These tight muscles affect joints, blood flow and impede body movement. Next, the provider inserts one or more sterile needles into the tense area of the muscle. The practitioner manipulates the needle until involuntary twitching occurs. If no twitching develops, the practitioner probes another needle elsewhere. The practitioner typically gets the muscle twitching but sometimes nothing happens. The probing continues in that spot until the twitching stops. Once muscular exhaustion occurs from this “exercise”, the patient experiences reduced or eliminated muscle tension and pain.
Difference from Trigger Point Acupuncture
In short, dry needling is a subset of trigger point acupuncture therapy. A trigger point acupuncturist performs the same technique, but with a different perspective. Acupuncturist treat the person in a more holistic way. A person practicing dry needling typically focuses only on the point of tension. An Acupuncturist considers the whole body as a system and, using acupuncture points, injury history, activities of the patient, herbs, lifestyle coaching, and more treats the whole person, not just the tight muscle. If you are seeking dry needling, consider that the technique is taken from Acupuncture. It’s the process of needling “Ah-Shi” points, which means painful points. Acupuncturists have been doing this for 5,000 years.
Keep in mind that trigger point acupuncture is a sub specialty. Traditional Acupuncturists insert needles and perhaps stimulate the needles by slight movement or rotation. However, there is another style of Acupuncture that is not widely practiced. This updated, westernized style involves manipulating the needle by gently probing the tight muscles and creating a twitch response. This repeated involuntary twitching indicates your tightness is releasing it’s hold. This is the definition of Trigger Point Acupuncture and is exactly the aim of dry needling.
I perform trigger point acupuncture on my patients and have been doing so since 1999. That’s over 18 years experience treating patients using the dry needling technique with the bonus that Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture brings.
Dry needling therapy is a new treatment type for doctors and physical therapists. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a physical therapist with much dry needling experience as I have. Physical therapists are not currently licensed to dry needle in New Jersey.
Choosing a Dry Needling Practitioner
Always choose an experienced, licensed dry needling practitioner. If you see a physical therapist, in some states, dry needling is not currently in their scope of practice potentially causing billing and other problems.
In my practice, I treat patients for all types of muscular ailments. Conditions I treat include:
- Frozen shoulder
- Plantar fasciitis
- Tennis elbow
- Carpal tunnel
- Knee pain
- Lower and upper back pain
and much more using trigger point and Electro-Acupuncture Medicine.
My name is Rhonda Hogan, I’m a licensed acupuncturist with 18+ years of experience. Call me to set up your appointment for trigger point acupuncture in order to address your pain. Contact me to discuss your problem and what you can expect from a trigger point treatment perspective.