Some practitioners in the medical community such as physical therapists and chiropractors say that dry needling and acupuncture are completely different. Let’s take a closer look and you can make your own conclusion.
The Georgia Composite Medical Board (GCMB), the legal entity that grants physicians and acupuncturists their license to practice says that, “Dry needling is a technique of the practice of acupuncture.” Ga. Code § 43-34-62(4) and the American Medical Association (AMA) has stated that dry needling is indistinguishable from acupuncture.
When a physical therapist, chiropractor or an acupuncturist insert a needle into the body to reduce your pain, they use the same FDA regulated acupuncture needles, the same acupuncture points, sometimes called trigger points or tender spots (traditionally referred to as Ashi points in Chinese medicine), and may use the same or similar needling manipulation techniques.
Some physical therapists or chiropractors are critical of acupuncture saying that their practice of dry needling is based on western scientific knowledge and that acupuncture and Chinese medicine are based on superstitious beliefs about such traditional concepts as yin and yang and qi.
While Chinese medicine is the world’s oldest literate and scholarly system of medicine, it is very inaccurate to portray it as static, superstitious or unscientific. For example, historical evidence shows the Chinese were studying anatomy through dissection more than 1000 years before they were in the west. While the ancient texts describing acupuncture reference foreign concepts of yin, yang and qi they are also very clear that acupuncture is a physical medicine. These texts describe in detail how to manipulate muscles, ligaments tendon and bone. Acupuncture is only one part of a complete medical system that has continued to grow and evolve over thousands of years to the present day.
Referring to the practice of acupuncture by a different name such as “dry needling” does not change the fact that the insertion of acupuncture needles is the practice of acupuncture.