Dry needling vs. acupuncture — what’s the difference?

Dry needling is a form of treatment that shares many similarities with the practice of acupuncture. However, there are some key differences that set these two disciplines apart. While both involve the insertion of thin needles into the skin with the goal of relieving pain and other symptoms, these two practices have different treatment goals and are based in different medical traditions. 

If you’re exploring the possibility of dry needling and are wondering how it compares to acupuncture, we’ve created the following overview. At Back in Motion Physical Therapy, our team is committed to helping patients understand the treatment options available. As you read this over, feel free to get in touch with us at any time if you’d like to learn more or for answers to your questions. 

Here is what sets dry needling apart from acupuncture

One of the biggest differences between acupuncture and dry needling is that while acupuncture is rooted in traditional medicine, dry needling is based on modern evidence-based medicine. This means that the treatment goals of dry needling are based on using very specific techniques to achieve the following results:

  • Achieve myofascial release of trigger points for increased pain relief and mobility
  • Stimulate blood flow to scar tissue
  • Help mobilize connective tissue
  • Alter the chemical environment of trigger points
  • Reverse some aspects of central sensitization
  • Reduce local and referred pain, improve range of motion and muscle activation pattern

With acupuncture, the insertion of needles is based around concepts including “chi” and “meridians” that haven’t been backed by evidence-based studies. Dry needling is recognized as a valid form of treatment by the American Physical Therapy Association and should be performed by a licensed and trained physical therapist who has received additional education in this specialty. 

Dry needling expertise with Back in Motion 

Back in Motion has a highly skilled clinical team with decades of combined experience in providing individualized care and relief to patients. After performing a thorough evaluation and movement tests we can provide a customized treatment plan that can involve dry needling and other techniques that are right for your needs. 

Find out if dry needling performed by one of our physical therapists can help you find relief by contacting us today and scheduling your initial appointment.