What’s the difference between acupuncture and dry needling?

What’s the difference between acupuncture and dry needling?


So – What’s dry needling?

Modern day dry needling is based on current medical science and research, while acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine.  With dry needling, needles are inserted into a very localised and specific area of pain, to stimulate a ‘twitch response’ which helps restore normal muscle function.  The insertion of the needle into specific stiff areas causes tiny injuries within the muscles, which then triggers a healing response to renew the injured tissue.  With acupuncture, needles are inserted along meridian lines which represent the body’s internal organs.  Traditional acupuncture is generally used to treat issues such as digestion, stress, insomnia and fertility.

What is dry needling?

Dry needling is a technique used by Physio’s to treat muscle pain or (myofascial pain).  It involves using a thin needle to penetrates the skin into the muscle.  The needle stimulates underlying muscle trigger points and connective tissues, helping them to relax or release.  It can be used to treat areas that can’t be reached using other manual therapies such as massage.  The goal of dry needling is to release trigger points (you may know them as muscle knots) to relieve pain and improve proper muscle function.

Does dry needling hurt?

Typically the needle insertion is not felt, however the twitch response or sudden contraction of the muscle may cause a very brief pain response, which is similar to a cramp or slight ache.  This response is actually a good thing and will stimulate healing.  Although the discomfort is usually only felt for a few seconds, following therapy some muscle soreness can be expected for up to 24-48hrs afterwards and is completely normal.

What conditions does dry needling help with?

Dry needling can effectively treat a range of acute and chronic conditions including back and neck pain, calf and hamstring problems, chronic headaches and migraines and muscle tightness.  We find it particularly effective for treating sporting injuries.

How does dry needling fit into my rehabilitation plan?

It is common to receive dry needling at the beginning of your treatment program to break the pain cycle.  While it can be useful in relieving pain it does not necessarily address the source of the pain, which will need to be targeted through other forms of Physiotherapy treatment and rehabilitation exercises.  Many patients respond positively to dry needling.

How long does dry needling last?

Some patients report feeling a great deal better two to three day following their dry needling treatment.  This could present different with patients who are suffering with chronic or severe muscle pain, as they will require further sessions so our Physiotherapists can assess and properly diagnose the issue at hand.  Dry needling should never be seen to “fix” the issue as this will never be the case if the original source of your muscle pain still remains.

Contributing factors which will need to be addressed include:

  • Poor posture
  • Muscular imbalance
  • Inflammation
  • Recurring activities

Why not try dry needling for yourself?

Our qualified Physio’s pride ourselves on our ability to locate the source of your pain, providing relief as well as a customised rehabilitation programs.  No GP referral is required and we accept all health funds. and HICAPS is available for your convenience of on the spot claiming.  For more information please contact one of our friendly staff members or BOOK ONLINE with one of our qualified Physio’s who will be able help you become pain free!