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Dry Needling Vs Acupuncture

or Acupuncture Vs Dry Needling. What is the difference? I am a huge fan of but why does one person like Dry Needling when another is drawn to Acupuncture?


First what is dry needling? basically it's the use of Acupuncture needles to bring about a change in soft tissue (muscle or tendon) from a Myotherapy perspective. Which is typically to reduce inflammation, work with a trigger point or illicit a healing response in an area. Its "dry" because nothing is going through it, no medicines or saline solution.



Back when dry needling was being researched, they started off with injecting subjects with saline solution. It was said to be very unpleasant. They later found that it wasn't necessary to inject anything. Why? inserting metal into the body elicits a healing response. It increases pain killing chemicals to be released from the brain, a immune response which reduces inflammation and a physical pumping action that increases blood flow around the needle. This last one is key to dealing with trigger points which are said to have poor blood flow and cause pain and spasm in large areas of muscles.


Dry needling is absolutely my go to for all the random aches and pains I get. It works quickly and its only targets the area I need it to, so my down time is minimal.


Now what is Acupuncture? Although all acupuncturists (Chinese medicine practioners) do deal with body aches and pains locally, they will usually take into account the whole body's meridian system. Acupuncture is one tool they use to balance the body in a prescriptive way. Thats not to say if you go in with tennis elbow, you're not going to get your elbow treated. They may use moxa on the end of the needle to balance cold or dampness in the body. they may use laser acupuncture instead of metal needles.



Many people I talk to head to Chinese Medicine for Acupuncture when they are dealing with a Chronic health problem, or they want to have a different perspective on their pain.

Dry needling as a tool of Myotherapy is very popular and there is a wide range of appeal from those who are scared of needles but value their help when nothing else was working to those who love the sensation of points being activated with more robust techniques such as localized twitch technique.


Do Myotherapist use Moxa? No

Do Myotherapist use electrostimulation? yes sometimes if needed and tolerated.

Are Acupuncture needles ok to use everywhere? No but a trained professional knows where and where they can be used and to what depth.

Can I do dry needling on myself at home? for the most part no. Training is required, but there are home use press on needles you can use that can be helpful. They can be given as home care by your Myotherapist or Acupuncturist.


Are there any other ways I can get acupuncture other than a Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner? yes, here is a list of some others who may have trained.


General Practitioners

Medical Acupuncturist



Are there any other practitioners trained in Dry needling? yes, here is a list.

Remedial Massage therapist can take stand-alone courses.

Physiotherapist (most)

Osteopaths (some)


I think it's wonderful how expansive the use of acupuncture needles to treat aches and pain has become. I hope this has cleared up any questions you may have had about the differences betweent he two are.


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