Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture: What’s the Difference?

Acupuncture treatment vs dry needling treatment May3rd 2021

Are you feeling neck, shoulder, knee, or some other kind of pain? Have you heard of therapies such as dry needling or acupuncture that treat such pains? You’ve likely heard of at least one of these practices, but how much about them do you actually know? Depending on the type of pain you feel, one of these therapies may be better for you than the other. This post will discuss the differences and similarities between dry needling vs. acupuncture.


What is Dry Needling?

To start, let’s answer this question—what is dry needling? Dry needling is a treatment for neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments. It involves thin monofilament needles that penetrate the skin in order to treat underlying muscular trigger points. In other words, dry needling treats musculoskeletal conditions such as neck pain, knee pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more. 

Although dry needling has not been around for long as long as a similar treatment, acupuncture, it’s not necessarily new either. People turn to dry needling to increase the range of motion limited to joint or muscle tightness. To maximize the benefits of dry needling, it is often used in conjunction with exercise, manual therapy, heat therapy, and education.

What is Acupuncture?

Derived from traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves inserting needles into specific areas of the body. The Chinese believe that this technique can help balance the flow of energy in your body. Western practitioners contradict this view. They believe that the points in which acupuncture needles are placed serve to stimulate the nerves, muscles, and connective tissues in the body. 

Unlike dry needling, acupuncture is a truly ancient practice developed thousands of years ago. So what does acupuncture help with? Acupuncture can be used to relieve discomfort associated with certain diseases or conditions. These include dental pain, neck pain, lower back pain, osteoarthritis, and more.


Differences Between Dry Needling and Acupuncture

Looking at the above sections, you might be asking yourself what the difference is between dry needling vs. acupuncture. Although they do sound similar in practice, acupuncture and dry needling do have their differences. 

First, let’s go over their similarities. Both practices have the same goal in mind, relieving you from pain. They also involve careful placement of needles to do so. That’s pretty much where the similarities end.

As for differences, acupuncture is a well-regulated practice that’s been around for thousands of years. On the other hand, dry needling is less regulated and has not been around anywhere near as long. Along with that, dry needling stems from western techniques, where acupuncture comes from eastern techniques. When it comes to the means of delivering pain relief, they also differ: Acupuncture aims to open up your energy flow for self-healing; Dry needling aims to stimulate trigger points. 

You likely noticed that some of the conditions treated by one of the therapies can also be treated by the other. But how would you know which practice is right for you? Well, it all depends on a diagnosis from a professional. Your physician must know exactly what and where the pain is in order to recommend the right treatment. 

Why Choose OSR Physical Therapy

Interested in dry needling as a treatment for your muscle or joint pain but want more information about it from a reliable source? Then request an appointment with us! Our staff will help you understand how dry needling can help speed up recovery time and get you back to your normal lifestyle. We have several locations in Arizona, so feel free to schedule a time to come check us out.