Dry Needling is Acupuncture
By Andy McIntyre, MS, LAc
"Simply put, dry needling is acupuncture; but, acupuncture is not dry needling."
The reasons behind the current state of affairs are multifold and include both misunderstandings and political considerations. The reasons behind why the matter would be important at all ultimately boil down to patient care and well-being—and, concomitantly, who is best suited to deliver that care: those whose profession is centered around the practice of needling or those who take weekend classes and considerthemselves adequately trained to deliver it.
In the following, we will explicate the situation and show that dry needling is a form of acupuncture, albeit using different language than traditional acupuncture language. Biomedical healthcare providers claim they are not performing acupuncture when performing dry needling. We will demonstrate that this claim is false.
DRY NEEDLING | Orthopedic Acupuncture
•“Dry Needling” was originally done ONLY by physicians using a hypodermic needle to stimulate a Myofascial Trigger Point without injecting a solution, like saline or lidocaine. Travell, Simons, & Simons, 1999, pp. 154–155
•Janet Travell was the first to use the term "dry needling" to differentiate between two hypodermic needle techniques when performing trigger point therapy. However, Travell did not elaborate on the techniques of dry needling; the current techniques of dry needling were based on the traditional and western medical acupuncture. Travell, Simons, & Simons, 1999, p. 156
•Myopain Seminars and other Dry Needling training companies have instructed students to use Seirin filiform needles, and to purchase them from Lhasa OMS.
A medical intervention performed by highly skilled, licensed acupuncturists or medical physicians that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate neural, muscular and connective tissues for the prevention and management of pain and movement impairments. ALSO KNOWN AS ACUPUNCTURE.
“A skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments."
-American Physical Therapy Association
TRAINING & CREDENTIALING
EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE
Scientific Literature Comparison from Pubmed. Number of scientific articles about:
DRY NEEDLING: 370
DRY NEEDLING AND ACUPUNCTURE: 182
•Insurance Companies DO NOT Recognize “Dry Needling” as a Billable Charge.
•Educate and Instruct Patients on How to Report Possible Insurance Fraud
•If patients are NOT paying for “dry needling” at the time of service, it is likely that the provider is improperly billing
The National Institute of Health warns that use of FILIFORM needles in treatment “can cause serious adverse
effects, including infections, punctured organs, collapsed lungs, and injury to the central nervous system.”
•Report all known DN adverse events
•Confirmed cases in MN of PTAs assisting PTs in treatments by removing needles
“Dry needling” is a pseudonym for acupuncture that has been adopted by physical therapists, chiropractors, and other health providers who lack the legal ability to practice acupuncture within their scope of practice. This strategy allows these groups to skirt safety, testing, and certification standards put into place for the practice of acupuncture.
-American Society of Acupuncturists
•The AMA recognizes dry needling as an invasive procedure and maintains that dry needling should only be performed by practitioners with standard training and familiarity with routine use of needles in their practice, such as licensed medical physicians and licensed acupuncturist.
•"Lax regulation and nonexistent standards surround this invasive practice. For patients' safety, practitioners should meet standards required for licensed acupuncturists and physicians.“ AMA Board Member, Russell W. H. Kridel, M.D.
•“The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation recognizes dry needling as an invasive procedure using acupuncture needles that has associated medical risks. Therefore, the AAPMR maintains that this procedure should only be performed by practitioners with standard training and familiarity with routine use of needles in their practice, such as licensed acupuncturists or licensed medical physicians.” American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Vendor Impact & Acupuncture Myths