So how does dry needling compare to acupuncture? Is it the same thing?
Dry needling is done by Physical therapists with the same needles used as acupuncturists. While acupuncture is a 5000 year old art based on Chinese theory, dry needling is a therapeutic procedure using the same medium; but applied with a scientific perspective.
Dry Needling has progressed from western acupuncture. Many doctors use injections such as cortisone and to treat pathologies such as migraine headaches and neck pain. Science is finding it may not always be necessary to inject fluid (wet needling) to get the same results. Science is finding that dry needling those same muscles by Physical therapists works just as well without risk complications to medicine.
Think of your last massage. Your therapist is kneading your back then all of a sudden finds a certain spot in a back muscle and says ‘Oh, there’s the spot!”. We call that muscle spot a trigger point. For decades MRI machines, CT scans and ultrasound could not take a
picture of that painful spot! To a large portion of the medical community if there was nothing on MRI, then there is nothing to treat. This mentality is also in part driven by insurance compensation; if there’s no lesion they don’t have to pay.
Fortunately in 2015 researchers used a special MRI technique to identify tissue changes at the exact site of the Trigger point. They found out that the muscle has a painful trigger point with a host of problems. The trigger point has altered chemical levels including pH of 5 where it should be a 7 (neutral). Other researchers at the NIH found that once a therapist performs trigger point dry needling of the site the pH is instantly restored! The muscle is restored to health and years of nagging constant pain is eliminated. This in the hands of an experienced therapist helps resolve pain fast.