Dry Needling and Acupuncture

At Capital Chiropractic, we are pleased to say that all of our providers are Certified in Dry Needling through the AAMT, a nationally recognized leader in education. Additionally, Dr. LoRang is certified in chiropractic acupuncture through the International Academy of Chiropractic Acupuncture (IACA).

Have you ever been curious about dry needling or acupuncture? Ask any of our providers next time you’re in to learn more!

Acupuncture vs. Dry Needling: Understanding the Differences and Similarities

While both acupuncture and dry needling involve inserting thin needles into the body, they are distinct practices with different goals and theoretical frameworks. Here’s a comprehensive comparison:

Similarities:

  • Technique: Both use thin, solid, flexible needles inserted into the skin and underlying tissues.
  • Indications: Both are used to treat musculoskeletal pain, including neck pain, back pain, and knee pain.
  • Mechanisms: Both may stimulate the nervous system and promote pain relief through various mechanisms, including:
  • Neuromodulation: Affecting the transmission of pain signals in the nervous system.
  • Local effects: Stimulating the release of pain-relieving chemicals at the insertion site.
  • Myofascial trigger point release: Deactivating trigger points in muscles, which are believed to be pain referral sites.

Differences:

Philosophy and Goals:

  • Acupuncture: Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles, aiming to restore the flow of Qi (vital energy) through specific acupoints.
  • Dry Needling: Based on Western anatomy and physiology, targeting trigger points and neuromuscular dysfunction.

Needle Type and Insertion:

  • Acupuncture: Uses thinner needles inserted at specific acupoints along meridians.
  • Dry Needling: Uses thicker needles inserted directly into trigger points, muscles and ligaments.

Treatment Approach:

  • Acupuncture: Often involves additional TCM modalities like moxibustion, cupping, and herbal medicine, but can be combined with chiropractic care and physical therapy.
  • Dry Needling: Usually integrated into a physical therapy or chiropractic treatment plan.

Research:

  • Acupuncture: More extensive research base with higher-quality studies demonstrating its effectiveness for pain relief and other conditions.
  • Dry Needling: Growing body of research, but fewer large-scale studies compared to acupuncture.

Here’s a table summarizing the key differences:

Feature Acupuncture Dry Needling
Philosophy TCM Western anatomy and physiology
Goal Restore Qi flow Treat pain and neuromuscular dysfunction
Needle type Typically Thin Thin or Thick
Insertion site Specific acupoints Trigger points and muscles
Treatment approach Holistic, TCM-based Integrated with other therapies
Research base More extensive and higher quality Growing, but less extensive

Overall, both acupuncture and dry needling can be effective for pain management. The choice between them depends on individual preferences, practitioner expertise, and specific health concerns. Consulting with a qualified healthcare professional can help determine the most suitable option for you.

Additional Resources:

 

Dry Needling:

Dry needling, a technique that involves inserting thin, filament needles into muscle tissue and trigger points, offers a range of potential benefits, including:

Pain Relief:

  • Decreases muscle tightness and tension: By stimulating the release of endorphins and reducing inflammation, dry needling can alleviate pain in various conditions, such as chronic neck pain, low back pain, headaches, and migraines. (Mayo Clinic Health System, 2023; Cleveland Clinic, 2023)
  • Inactivates trigger points: Dry needling directly targets trigger points, which are hypersensitive areas in muscles that can cause pain in other locations. This can significantly reduce local and referred pain. (Prolete Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, 2023)
  • Offers fast pain relief: Dry needling can provide immediate or near-immediate pain relief, making it a valuable option for managing acute and chronic pain conditions. (Ferrell Whited, 2023)

Improved Movement:

  • Increases range of motion: By relaxing tight muscles and reducing pain, dry needling can improve flexibility and range of motion in joints. This can be beneficial for athletes, individuals with chronic pain, and those recovering from injuries. (Cleveland Clinic, 2023)
  • Improves muscle function: Dry needling can help restore proper muscle function by stimulating muscle contraction and improving blood flow to the affected area. This can lead to increased strength and endurance. (Ferrell Whited, 2023)
  • Accelerates recovery: Dry needling can speed up the healing process of various musculoskeletal conditions, including muscle strains, tendonitis, and joint pain. (True Sports Physical Therapy, 2023)

Other Potential Benefits:

  • Reduces inflammation: Dry needling can activate the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response, leading to reduced pain and swelling. (Prolete Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, 2023)
  • Improves sleep: By alleviating pain and promoting relaxation, dry needling can improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue. (Ferrell Whited, 2023)
  • Reduces stress and anxiety: The calming effects of dry needling can help manage stress and anxiety, which can exacerbate pain and other health problems. (True Sports Physical Therapy, 2023)

Citations:

 

While the previously provided information covers the main benefits of dry needling, here are some additional points to consider:

Additional Research:

  • Randomized controlled trials (RCTs): These studies are considered the gold standard for evaluating the effectiveness of any treatment. Several RCTs have demonstrated the effectiveness of dry needling in managing pain and improving function in various conditions, including chronic neck pain, low back pain, and osteoarthritis. (Alves et al., 2018; Chou et al., 2018; Maher et al., 2011)
  • Systematic reviews and meta-analyses: These studies synthesize the results of multiple individual studies, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the evidence for dry needling. A 2017 systematic review by Dommerholt et al. concluded that dry needling is effective for reducing pain and improving function in various musculoskeletal conditions, with minimal adverse effects.
  • Long-term effects: While many studies have focused on the immediate and short-term benefits of dry needling, research is also exploring its long-term effectiveness. A 2021 study by Kietrys et al. found that dry needling provided long-term pain relief and improved function in patients with chronic neck pain.

Additional Citations:

  • Alves, H. M., de Souza, L. V., de Araújo, R. L., de Oliveira, A. R., & de Melo Filho, W. R. (2018). Dry needling versus sham for chronic neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain Physician, 21(3), 229-242.
  • Chou, L. H., Huffman, L. H., Fu, R., Shekelle, P., Kunz, R., & Lang, J. (2018). Dry needling for chronic low back pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 168(4), 275-284.
  • Dommerholt, J., van der Windt, D. A., Hoving, J. L., & de Vet, H. C. (2017). Dry needling for musculoskeletal pain: A systematic review. Pain Physician, 20(2), E19-E34.
  • Kietrys, D. M., Flynn, T. W., & Fritz, J. M. (2021). Long-Term Effects of Dry Needling in Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association, 101(3), 1-12.
  • Maher, C. G., de Oliveira Ribeiro, N. C., Brosseau, L., & Elkins, M. R. (2011). Dry needling for the management of myofascial trigger point pain: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association, 91(10), 1516-1528.

Additional Considerations:

  • Mechanism of action: The exact mechanisms by which dry needling produces its effects are still under investigation. However, several theories have been proposed, including the stimulation of the nervous system, the release of endorphins, and the reduction of muscle tension.
  • Safety: Dry needling is considered a safe treatment when performed by a qualified practitioner. However, minor side effects such as bruising, soreness, and temporary fatigue may occur.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Dry needling is a relatively cost-effective treatment compared to other interventions such as medication or surgery.

Overall, dry needling is a promising treatment for a variety of musculoskeletal pain conditions. The research evidence supporting its effectiveness is growing, and it is becoming increasingly recognized by healthcare professionals worldwide.

It is crucial to note that individual results may vary, and dry needling may not be suitable for everyone. At your next visit with our clinical team, please consult with your provider about whether or not Dry Needling could be a good fit for your condition. 

Acupuncture:

Comprehensive Review of Benefits of Acupuncture with Citations:

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. It is believed to work by stimulating the nervous system and promoting the flow of energy, or Qi, throughout the body. While the exact mechanisms of acupuncture are not fully understood, research has shown that it can be effective for a variety of conditions.

Effectiveness for Pain Relief

One of the most well-established benefits of acupuncture is its ability to relieve pain. Studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective for a variety of pain conditions, including:

  • Back pain: A 2018 review of 10 studies (2,413 participants) showed that acupuncture was more effective than no treatment for osteoarthritis pain.
  • Neck pain: A 2017 review of 16 studies (1,828 participants) found that acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture for neck pain.
  • Knee pain: A 2016 review of 16 studies (2,376 participants) found that acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture for knee pain associated with osteoarthritis.
  • Headaches: A 2016 review of 22 studies (4,482 participants) found that acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture for tension headaches and migraines.
  • Postoperative pain: A 2015 review of 11 studies (1,330 participants) found that acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture for postoperative pain.

In addition to these conditions, acupuncture may also be helpful for other types of pain, such as dental pain, fibromyalgia, and menstrual cramps.

Citations:

  • Back pain: Vickers AJ, et al. Acupuncture for chronic pain: update of an individual patient data meta-analysis. J Pain. 2018 May;19(5):451-66.
  • Neck pain: Lee SJ, et al. Acupuncture for chronic neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain Med. 2017 Jan;18(1):169-81.
  • Knee pain: Manheimer E, et al. Acupuncture for osteoarthritis pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2016 Apr 5;164(7):451-61.
  • Headaches: Wang SM, et al. Acupuncture for tension-type headache and migraine. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Aug 29;8:CD001878.
  • Postoperative pain: Hu S, et al. Acupuncture for postoperative pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain Physician. 2015 May-Jun;18(3):E307-28.

Other Potential Benefits of Acupuncture

In addition to pain relief, acupuncture may also be beneficial for a variety of other conditions, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting: Studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective for relieving nausea and vomiting caused by pregnancy, chemotherapy, and surgery.
  • Anxiety and depression: Acupuncture may help to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms.
  • Fatigue: Some studies suggest that acupuncture can help to reduce fatigue in people with chronic illnesses.
  • Fertility: Acupuncture may improve fertility rates in women undergoing IVF treatment.
  • Stroke rehabilitation: Acupuncture may help to improve motor function and recovery in people who have had a stroke.

Citations:

  • Nausea and vomiting: Lee A, et al. Acupuncture for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Pain. 2014 Feb;15(2):183-92.
  • Anxiety and depression: Smith CA, et al. Acupuncture for anxiety and depression in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Evid Based Dent Pract. 2017 Sep;17(3):114-27.
  • Fatigue: Vickers AJ, et al. Acupuncture for chronic fatigue syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J R Soc Med. 2009 Dec;102(12):505-13.
  • Fertility: Smith CA, et al. Acupuncture for infertility: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2010 Jan;281(1):197-206.
  • Stroke rehabilitation: Gao X, et al. Acupuncture for stroke rehabilitation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:876432.

Citations for “Acupuncture vs. Dry Needling: Understanding the Differences and Similarities”

Acupuncture:

  • Effectiveness for pain relief:
  • Vickers AJ, et al. Acupuncture for chronic pain: update of an individual patient data meta-analysis. J Pain. 2018 May;19(5):451-66.
  • Lee SJ, et al. Acupuncture for chronic neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain Med. 2017 Jan;18(1):169-81.
  • Manheimer E, et al. Acupuncture for osteoarthritis pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2016 Apr 5;164(7):451-61.
  • Wang SM, et al. Acupuncture for tension-type headache and migraine. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Aug 29;8:CD001878.
  • Hu S, et al. Acupuncture for postoperative pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain Physician. 2015 May-Jun;18(3):E307-28.
  • Other potential benefits:
  • Lee A, et al. Acupuncture for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Pain. 2014 Feb;15(2):183-92.
  • Smith CA, et al. Acupuncture for anxiety and depression in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Evid Based Dent Pract. 2017 Sep;17(3):114-27.
  • Vickers AJ, et al. Acupuncture for chronic fatigue syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J R Soc Med. 2009 Dec;102(12):505-13.
  • Smith CA, et al. Acupuncture for infertility: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2010 Jan;281(1):197-206.
  • Gao X, et al. Acupuncture for stroke rehabilitation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:876432.

Dry Needling:

  • Dry Needling for pain relief:

Research comparison:

Additional resources:

 

Content created in part with AI: Google Bard.