Before we talk about the difference, let’s point out the obvious similarities – the needle. Both types of treatment rely on a sharp object targeted towards specific areas of the body with the hopes of bringing about some sort of alleviation or relief. Whether you find eiher to be relaxing, painful, stressful, or calming – both can offer life changing results. It is the intention or supporting philosophy that separates one from the other.
Acupuncture is a form of ancient Chinese medicine in which needles are applied along meridian lines to restore balance and flow of energy throughout the entire body. The meridians are believed to connect to the organs in our body and targeting these areas treats internal ailments such as digestive issues, insomnia, chronic pain, or stress. Multiple needles are used at one time and the needles are left in for anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes during a single session.
In the 1980’s, a new treatment developed using needles; however, this time the goal was to target the muscle itself. Those of us dealing with pain often feel increased tension or sensitivities in specific palpable spots that cause unexplainable aches and pains. We refer to these spots as “muscle knots” or “trigger points” which are tight bands of muscle choked of their blood supply and ultimately limit your ability to move or stabilize appropriately. By sticking a needle into said trigger point, the clinician hopes to relieve the built up tension and allow blood to re-flow into this area in order to restore normal muscle function and mobility.
Physical therapists practice dry needling. One treatment is not better than the other - they have completely different end results. It simply boils down to which modality brings the relief you are looking for in decreasing your pain. Our therapists and patients have found great success in using this technique to rid patients of muscle tightness and pain. We have 8 providers who offer dry needling! If you have any questions or would like to try dry needling, please stop by CCPT for a consult and see if dry needling is right for you!