Acupuncture and dry needling are NOT the same.

Although, dry-needling is beneficial and may occasionally be a part of my treatment plans if indicated, dry-needling is not the same thing as acupuncture. Physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, sports trainers, or medical doctors that provide dry-needling are not acupuncturists, nor, are they practicing acupuncture. Dry-needling is the direct release of a trigger point (tight, ropey area) in a muscle with a needle. It can be described as another way to manually release a tight muscle. Like a massage therapist would do with their hands. Quite differently, acupuncture is a wholistic internal medicine. The beauty of acupuncture is that it treats a person as a whole and discerns the body's patterns of imbalance. For example, if my patient's chief complaint is knee pain, I would treat the knee locally in addition to constitutional points that will help to support the knee in healing or to prevent further injury. I may choose points to nourish yin, move blood, nourish blood, or to move stagnation, etc. Acupuncturists complete Master's degree programs in Chinese Medicine that are on average about 4 years-long. The programs consist of thousands of hours of didactic study (around 3000 hours) and hundreds of hours (around 400 hours) of clinical experience. A certificate in dry-needling can be obtained by completing a 2-day-weekend course. Worth noting, non-acupuncturists that provide dry-needling have the highest rate of causing pneumothorax (puncturing a lung) with a needle which can be a life threatening medical emergency. Acupuncturists spend years learning, training, and being scrutinized by their teachers on safe needle depths, needle techniques, anatomical landmarks, and avoiding injury to important underlying anatomical structures. Sooooo, if you've had dry-needling before and just thought it was "ok" or even if it really helped you (because it does have its benefits), you still haven't had acupuncture! Once you try it you'll see all the benefits it has to your mind, body, and, soul and how totally different and more wholistic it is than dry-needling. You just can't compare apples to oranges.

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