What’s the difference between Dry Needling and Acupuncture?

Since I’ve started my Dry Needling practice as a Remedial Massage therapist I am often asked the question ‘what is the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?’

This is a great question because if I were to take a picture of a dry needling treatment and an acupuncture treatment and place them side by side I doubt you would be able to tell the difference. However, they are actually quite different! 

Before we jump into any comparisons, firstly we need to understand both dry needling and acupuncture as therapies. 

So let’s start with dry needling:

Dry needling is a technique used to decrease muscular pain and tension. This technique was developed by western medicine and qualified therapists have been practicing this technique for decades.

Dry needling is performed by a qualified therapist, this could be a physiotherapist, podiatrist, osteopath or a remedial massage therapist, just to name a few.

The technique is performed by inserting a thin needle into a myofascial trigger point found in a muscle. A Trigger point is usually described as a knot or a point of tension in the muscle.

The needle helps to stimulate relaxation of the muscle via increased blood flow, release of endorphins and a neural response.

The needles are generally left in the muscle for 5-20 minutes depending on the client’s presentations and the effects are almost instantaneous and in some cases it can be much more effective than other manual therapy techniques.

For more information on how dry needling fits into a remedial massage session check out my blog post – Dry needling in Remedial Massage Therapy

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Now onto acupuncture:

Acupuncture is part of the ancient practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine and is used to treat a number of different diseases and conditions in the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners believe the human body has more than 2,000 acupuncture points (acupoints) connected by pathways known as meridians.

These pathways create an energy flow through the body that is responsible for overall health. Disruption of the energy flow is thought to cause disease.

Acupuncturists insert a thin needle into the acupoint that is related to the condition you are suffering from, this is left in situ for 20-30 minutes. Acupuncture is thought to improve the flow of energy, thereby improving health.

So now we know about the two types of therapy we can compare them. Firstly the similarities, both therapies use similar needles and to the untrained eye look very similar in practice. 

And it just about stops there… dry needling and acupuncture come from different sources of science and medicine. One has been around for hundreds of years and the other is a relatively new style of treatment in terms of medicine.

Dry needling and acupuncture are used to treat different conditions and have different treatment goals and outcomes.

While they are different treatments they both have their place in modern medicine and many people have achieved outstanding results from treatment with each discipline. 

Here at FNQ Health co we have seen some amazing results with our clients who have been treated for muscular pain and tension related conditions using dry needling techniques. We have 3 different practitioners who are qualified dry needling therapists, if you are interested in how dry needling can help you be sure to get in touch with us so we can help you begin your road to recovery! 

Erin x

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