Trigger Point Acupuncture / Western Style Acupuncture / Dry Needling / IMS Therapy - So many names, what do they all mean?
Many names, same meaning: inserting needles into tender & painful areas and tight muscles to relieve tension and pain.
But is there a difference?
Yes, there may be - depending who's inserting that needle into your body.
Acupuncturists have been treating musculoskeletal disorders, releasing tight knots for thousands of years and since it is such an effective way to relieve pain other professions (chiropractors, massage therapists, and even the guy who makes your smoothies) started offering a therapy that they call dry needling or intramuscular stimulation.
The problem with this is: currently the dry needling classes offered to physical therapists / chiropractors / massage therapists is very minimal: 27-72 hours of training for physical therapist, 300 hours of training for chiropractors in the use of needles, in addition to the hours required to become licensed. As a comparison, licensed acupuncturist need 2000+ hours of hands on, supervised training in the use of needles in addition to performing 250-350 supervised patient treatments prior to graduation and licensure. That's a huge difference...
Let's face it: you unnecessarily expose yourself to a serious and potentially hazardous risk when you receive any kind of needle therapy from these providers.
Dry neeling is an invasive procedure, the technique frequently involves needling of muscular structures that may be deep (needle length can range up to 4 inches in order to reach the affected muscles) and/or hidden under layers of other muscles and tissues and close to sensitive structures and organs including blood vessels, nerves and organs such as the lungs, heart and liver. In the worst case scenario these vital organs may be pierced resulting in complex medical situations or even death.
You can see that the needles in the hands of minimally educated practitioners can cause extreme harm. Any invasive procedure has associated and potentially serious medical risks and is safe only when performed by a properly educated, trained and experienced health professional.
Read this great PDF that explains the major differences between acupuncture and dry needling. And please do yourself a favor and choose an acupuncturist for your next dry needling experience 📌