Recently, one of our patients asked us this question––what is the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?
Dry needling is a term often used by physical therapists and chiropractors used to describe a technique for muscle stimulation using a needle. It’s called dry needling because nothing is injected into the body with the needle.
The tool used for dry needling and acupuncture is the same. Both practices use acupuncture needles, which are solid filiform needles.
However, where dry needling and acupuncture differ is the technique and theory for how and where the needles are placed.
Dry needling is focused on using strong stimulation on the muscles to get them to release. Acupuncture, on the other hand, does not use strong stimulation and it is based on channel theory and using points to heal the body naturally.
As a result, the experience for the patient will be a lot different between these two different forms of treatment. Acupuncture is not painful at all, while dry needling can be.
Another key difference between dry needling and acupuncture is the amount of training required to administer each of these forms of treatment. Acupuncture requires significantly more training. Although it depends on the state, often it requires graduating from an accredited school and hundreds of hours of both classroom training and clinical practice experience.
Dry needling, on the other hand, only requires minimal training. In Tennessee, for example, physical therapists only need to complete 24 hours of classroom training to be able to administer dry needling treatment.
Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture: What’s the Difference?
For the full explanation of the differences between these two forms of treatment, watch our video with acupuncturists Alexa Hulsey and Trey Brackman.
Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture: A Patient’s Perspective
As discussed in the previous video, dry needling can be quite stimulating and even painful. Acupuncture is not painful at all. To hear a patient’s perspective on the difference between acupuncture and dry needling, our own Molly Brislin describes her experience with both forms of treatment.
Watch her explanation below.