Dry needling uses acupuncture needles to stimulate trigger points or tight muscles in the body that are causing you pain. Often times your pain is being referred from another location in the body and during your dry needling session, many tight muscles will be addressed that are contributing to your primary point of pain. Dry needling is a shorter session than acupuncture where you may have little to no needle retention time.
So what’s the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?
Acupuncture works with the body’s meridians, or energy channels, to produce health, wellness, hormonal balance, and normal digestion. It is also used for pain and injury relief, and is very powerful in this regard. Dry needling is also quite powerful, and for pain and injury relief it is “like acupuncture on steroids.” Dry needling does not work with the meridians of the body, but rather produces direct stimulation of muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints at strategic points. Dry needling is immensely popular among the elite athletes we treat and is used worldwide for the treatment of athletic injuries, to enhance recovery, and for injury prevention. Dry needling can often shorten recovery time significantly.
Are there different Dry Needling Approaches?
There are at least two prevailing schools of training regarding dry needling. One approach is very gentle, quite precise, and is based on anatomically consistent areas of stimulation. This gentle, pain free approach is the dry needling technique we use here at The Center for Spine, Sport & Physical Medicine. We do not use the other approach — used by a growing number of therapists in the Denver area — that is aggressive and uncomfortable. We’ve had patients tell us that our approach is a “night and day” difference from what they’ve experienced elsewhere. Of course, it is the lasting results our patients appreciate the most.