What is ‘dry needling’? 

The practice of ‘dry needling’ involves inserting an acupuncture needle into a trigger point and is typically used to treat the pain associated with injuries. A trigger point is a tender spot in a tight band of muscle which causes pain when pressed or squeezed. A dry needling training program often runs for just two or three days – which is just enough time for people to gain a rudimentary understanding of how to ‘needle the point that hurts’ and perhaps deliver short-term symptom relief.

Is acupuncture the same thing as ‘dry needling’? 

The increasing prevalence of the term ‘dry needling’ has created some confusion. Acupuncture practice incorporates many different needling techniques and a variety of these may be required to gain the best results. Dry needling, also known as trigger point acupuncture or, more traditionally, as ashi acupuncture, refers to just one of these techniques. A registered acupuncturist is qualified in many techniques, including trigger point acupuncture, and will adopt the best approach depending on the patient’s individual needs. The best approach does not rely on trigger points alone and sometimes trigger points are not necessary at all. If you’re only having ‘dry needling’, you are missing out on most of what a registered acupuncturist has to offer.

So do acupuncturists offer something more? 

Absolutely. There is much more to acupuncture than the insertion of needles into tender points. Often the tender point will return if the underlying cause is not identified and addressed. Quality acupuncture practice involves comprehensive patient assessment, an acupuncture diagnosis and an individualised treatment plan. Appropriate needling methods and supplementary treatment can then be designed to match the patient’s circumstances. Acupuncturists combine both a traditional understanding of the body from a Chinese medicine perspective with modern innovations from current research; so in addition to methods such as needling, cupping and moxibustion, acupuncturists may use exercise therapy, massage techniques or electro- or laser- stimulation of acupoints. Some may also practise Chinese herbal medicine or other health modalities such as Western herbalism. This comprehensive approach results in a holistic diagnosis and treatment plan.

How does acupuncture work based on Western medicine? 

The public can sometimes be confused or even misled by other medical professionals that acupuncture is only based on traditional Chinese medicinal theories of Qi or energy. This is completely incorrect. In fact, acupuncture is a scientifically proven medical procedure utilized by both western medical professionals as well as eastern medical professionals. Today, you can find acupuncture in many hospitals, clinics, and private practices around the world. We can understand how acupuncture works from a western medical perspective by looking at the following:

• Acupuncture stimulates and promotes blood circulation that provides essential oxygen and nutrients to facilitate optimal healing and recovery.

• Acupuncture relaxes muscles, tendons, ligaments, connective tissues, and relieves spasms and pain.

• Acupuncture regulates the metabolism and body fluids for optimal health.

• Acupuncture aids in regulating brain chemicals, neurotransmitters and vital chemicals to calm, reduce pain, and balance the body.

• Acupuncture breaks up stagnated blood and muscle adhesions deep in the tissues from damage or injury to aid in resolving pain and recovery.

• Acupuncture stimulates and regulates the nervous system including: Central Nervous System, Motor and Sensory Nerves, Autonomic Nerves, Nerve Trunks, Nerve Receptors in the Skin, Neural Segments, Connective Tissues, and Dermatomes.

Acupuncture is a proven modality that treats many aspects of the body.

1. Migraines and Headaches: Acute and Chronic.

2. Sleep Issues: Insomnia, Fatigue, Waking at Night, Restlessness.

3. Emotional Issues: Depression, Stress, and Anxiety

4. Gynecological Issues: Infertility, Irregular Periods, and Painful Menstruation.

5. Neurological Issues: Trigeminal Neuralgia, Facial Pain, Stroke, Polyneuropathy, Plantar Fasciitis, and Sciatica.

6. Pain Issues: Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, and Chronic Pain.

7. Injuries: Sports Injuries, Work related Injuries, Repetitive Use Injuries, Chronic and Old Injuries.

8. Menopause Issues: Hot Flashes, Night Sweats, and Sleeping Difficulties.

9. Digestive Issues: Heartburn, Acid Reflux, Poor Digestion, Abdominal Pain, Food Intolerances, IBS, Constipation, and Diarrhea.

10. Skin Issues: Psoriasis, Eczema, Hives, Acne, and Itching.

11. Respiratory Issues: Asthma, Allergies, Cough, and Sinus Conditions.

Of course this is just a general list. Acupuncture has the capability of aiding in the recovery of almost any disorder when properly utilized by a trained professional.

How safe is acupuncture and ‘dry needling’? 

While acupuncture is considered very safe in the hands of well-trained practitioners, it has also been associated with a range of complications, some of them serious, usually from poorly trained practitioners. Research shows that practitioners who have undertaken short courses have more than double the rate of adverse events than fully qualified practitioners.

Minnesota Acupuncture Laws: 

It’s important to be aware that Minnesota Statutes (Chapter 147B. Acupuncture Practitioners) only allow practitioners registered with the Minnesota Medical Board to practice acupuncture. Currently, ‘dry needling’ is not written or mentioned in Minnesota state law and is not an approved medical procedure. Practitioners utilizing dry needling and who are not registered as practicing acupuncture under Minnesota state statutes are in fact administering an illegal medical procedure on the public.

Is my practitioner qualified in acupuncture? 

In order to gain Minnesota acupuncture licensure, a practitioner must meet the requirements set forth in the Minnesota Acupuncture Practitioners Statutes including providing evidence of their competency to provide the full range of acupuncture intervention methods to the public. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) – approved bachelor and higher degree programs teach both traditional Chinese and modern biomedical approaches to health and illness and require substantial supervised clinical practice. If you’re unsure whether your practitioner is a registered acupuncturist, look for them on the NCCAOM Certified Practitioner Registry or on the Minnesota Medical Board’s list of registered medical professionals.

How do I find a qualified, registered acupuncturist?

The Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Association of Minnesota (AOMAM) or the NCCAOM Certified Practitioner Registry will help you find a qualified and licensed  acupuncturist.