So, what is the difference between “acupuncture” and “dry needling”?
Its the same thing! Acupuncture needles are solid thus “dry”, versus hypodermic needles that can inject or draw fluids through them. There is a real difference, however, in how the needles are used and the experience of the practitioner using them. Not all “acupuncturists” are created equal.
Some practitioners have as few as 100 hours of training and are given a “certificate” in acupuncture. These practitioners tend to be chiropractors, physical therapists, MDs, or DOs and will use the term “dry needling” in lieu of calling it acupuncture. Dry needling, also often referred to as “Trigger Point Therapy”, is just a modern term for what the Chinese called “hit medicine” or trauma medicine and is only a very small part of understanding the art of Oriental Medicine.
A “licensed acupuncturist” (LAc) is required to have a minimum of 4 years (nearly 3,000 hours) of training in the art and techniques of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. To practice in the State of Colorado, licensed acupuncturists must sit for an extensive national board exam given by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), then meet the requirements of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to qualify for state licensure.
The type of practitioner you choose for your care is certainly up to you. Many of the practitioners that simply hold a certificate in acupuncture (DCs, PTs, MDs, DOs) can most definitely learn to be skillful in the art of dry needling, Trigger Point Therapy, and possibly the very complex ancient Oriental “meridian” therapy, but true competency comes from a thorough education and years of daily practice, not just occasional use.
Take charge of your health by asking questions and checking credentials when selecting a practitioner for your care.
Feel free to contact Allison Suddard, LAc at Peak Performance Acupuncture Sports Medicine if you have additional questions about this topic. 303.668.9900