One common question we often receive is in regards to the differences between dry needling and acupuncture and which type is best for them. There is also a misconception that they are the same, but here are the differences:
Dry needling is a term often used by physical therapists and other chiropractors that describes a technique for stimulation of a muscle utilizing a needle. (Why dry needling? Because they are not injecting anything into the body with the needles.) Dry needling focuses on stimulation of the muscles to get them to release, which typically will be more uncomfortable than acupuncture.
Acupuncture, while we may use stimulation, is more based off what is called the channel theory, and based on ancient Chinese medicine. Think of cars on a highway, we want consistent and equal traffic in both directions with no traffic jams. Acupuncture balances the energy (ie: traffic on the highways) and restores proper flow of energy (ie: removal of traffic jams) throughout the body.
Acupuncture is used to treat ailments and a variety of conditions (examples: digestive, fertility, insomnia, chronic pain, and more), while dry needling is muscular treatment in nature focusing on releases of trigger points. With dry needling, the needles are placed into the muscle that is causing a problem, quite a bit deeper than acupuncture needles are generally placed and acupuncture is more of a whole body treatment addressing conditions vs specific muscular area of complaint. Both use the same filiform needles for the procedures.
Acupuncture also may include some recommendations for Chinese herbs or homeopathic solutions for your conditions.
Regardless of the differences, the procedure that works best and is most effective is what works best for the patient and their specific needs.
Educational hours vary as well. A typical acupuncturist holds a Master’s degree and is credentialed LAc. Their education is based heavily in meridian/energy work, treating conditions, etc. In Iowa, to dry needle, you just need to have a weekend seminar (typically 24 hours) of training. Chiropractors in Iowa are the weird ones. We need a 100-hour in person course to be able to place needles into patients. Many chiropractors will take the 100-hour course to be able to “dry needle” or will do acupuncture with it. Their training is called Chiropractic Acupuncture. Keep in mind physical therapists hold either a Master’s or Doctorate level education, chiropractors also have a Doctorate as their baseline education.
Dr. Jessi Janorschke in our practice holds a Diplomat in Chiropractic Acupuncture, the highest level of training a Chiropractor can hold in Acupuncture. It is a 300-hour in person program that takes 2+ years to complete. She performs both dry needling and acupuncture and has been trained in both.
For more information on which service may be best for you, contact our office at 515-450-8541 and schedule a consult today!