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Dry Needling and Acupuncture:

What are are the differences and similarities

Acupuncture Session

Who Can Do What?

Chiropractors, PT's and other medical professionals can perform Dry Needling and in some states perform Acupuncture. The differences in training dictates if a person can perform either technique.

So what is the Difference?

Acupuncture focuses on balancing Qi or the energies of the body to improve health and wellness through the use of the Meridian System and specific acupuncture points that exist in the body. Currently, it is believed that the practice of acupuncture influences how a person's nervous system reacts to events.


By inserting and stimulating different parts of the body it is possible to activate different areas of the brain. An Acupuncturist is essentially reprogramming how your body reacts to your surroundings.


For example: If you are unable to sleep at night and have insomnia, the acupuncturist's goal in selecting points will be focused on reducing inflammation, anxiety, and resetting your circadian rhythm. So instead of lying awake at night with random thoughts keeping you awake, your body/brain understands that it can switch off and relax during the night. 


An Acupuncturist may say you have liver stagnation which is causing liver yang rising which is reflective of the Eastern Traditional Pathology Terminology and understanding of how the body works that has been carried over into the modern era.


Dry Needling is a modern scaled-down version of acupuncture that focuses on treating Musculoskeletal complaints and pain. Instead of focusing on the entire body, most dry needling sessions are focused on one joint or several related muscle groups. The selection of points is based solely on anatomical findings. So if you have a frozen shoulder it is likely that the muscle surrounding your shoulder will be selected such as Subscapularis m., Levator Scapulae m., Triceps m., Biceps m., and Occipitals mm.

The Controversy 

The Diplomate of Acupuncture (NCCAOM) training and competency verification is in sharp contrast to the Acupuncture training of other healthcare professionals such as Chiropractors or Registered Nurses or even Medical Doctors who obtain other acupuncture certification programs.  Often these programs offer only abbreviated training typically consisting of  100-300 hours with limited hands on training. 


NCCAOM Acupuncturists are also trained in standard medical history gathering, safety, and ethics, and recognition of when to refer patients to other health care professionals or consult with other medical practitioners, however, have over 1000 hours of hands-on needling. 

Dry Needling is taught through certifications courses that may be only 12 hours in length, once completed a qualified professional can claim certification in Dry Needling. Even though it uses the same needles and carries the same risk of injury as acupuncture.

Patient's Choice

Do you need dry needling or do you need acupuncture?


In all fairness, it depends on the conditions and your goals.


If you want a more holistic approach that addresses both your physical, mental, and spiritual well being you may respond better from Acupuncture.


If you just want to address tight achy muscles Dry Needling may be a better fit. However, be aware that an Acupuncturist can perform dry needling in their treatments. Dry Needling was originally an Acupuncture technique called "Sparrow Pecking"  because of the movement of the needle in and out and used on Ashi points that are recognized as trigger points in Western Medical practice. Acupuncturists are taught many different techniques to use the needles to achieve results. 

StoneWater Acupuncture & Chiropractic

Dr. Gradel holds a Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine and a Masters in Acupuncture allowing her to provide both treatment options and the understanding of both traditional and conventional treatment rationale's to meet her patients' expectations. 

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