How Is Dry Needling Different from Acupuncture?

How Is Dry Needling Different from Acupuncture?

Modern medicine is filled with a plethora of wonders to help relieve pain and restore injured parts of the body, but you would likely be surprised to know a lot of medical professionals also rely on a number of alternative treatments to complement other methods. Millions of people still use many traditional methods globally. In fact, 38% of adults and 12% of children in America alone use what is commonly referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), which include things like homeopathy, massage, yoga, herbal medicine, and meditation.

Acupuncture is an ages old example of traditional medicine, and is still in practice after centuries of use. And on the surface, it is very similar to some modern methods of complementary medicine like dry needling. But, they are not the same, and to explain the reasons why, let’s examine each process separately, then review the similarities and differences between them.

If you live in the Houston or Spring, Texas area and you have problems that either acupuncture or dry needling can remedy, Drs. Billy Cheong, Kesia Broome, Elias Madrid, and the skilled medical staff at Elite Spine and Health Center can help.

The dry needling process

Also referred to as trigger point dry needling, this is a supplemental part of physical therapy that helps with the management of musculoskeletal pain. Thin needles are used to target the myofascial tissue (connective tissue that covers muscles and many other parts of the body) to relieve trigger points (knotted tissue that frequently causes referred pain). Common methods of dry needling include superficial and deep techniques which mainly differ by the depth they go into your tissue (the superficial method only goes into the subcutaneous tissue, where the deep method moves further to to target trigger points).

The acupuncture process

The current use of acupuncture is still an extension of the application used in China centuries ago, but where the traditional use promotes the focusing of chi or qi (your body’s energy) modern practitioners use it to stimulate your immune and nervous system. This is accomplished by inserting needles in specific parts of the skin and muscles (traditionally called meridians or pathways) to increase blood flow and produce a range of positive effects to your health. There are 361 points in the body that can have needles applied to help with various chronic illnesses and is perfectly complementary with other forms of pain management.

Similarities and differences

The primary similarity is in the application of a needle in specific parts of the skin to produce a therapeutic effect, but that is the extent of it. Dry needling is a modern method of relieving pain and stiffness from trigger points and is used to manage illnesses like fibromyalgia, sports injuries and muscle pain. 

Acupuncture, on the other hand, is an ancient method of managing a larger range of medical problems through placing needles in one of 361 points in your body to stimulate the release of endorphins, the increase of blood flow, and the lowering of inflammation. It is frequently used to manage many different things like back, neck, and knee pain, migraines, headaches, and depression.

Both have their place in physical therapy, but they serve different purposes in treatment. If you need to receive the benefits of either method of care or other forms of physical therapy, Drs. Cheong, Broome, Madrid and the team at Elite Spine and Health Center can help you feel better. So make an appointment today to get started.

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