Dry needling is the use of solid filiform needles for therapy of muscle pain, sometimes also known as intramuscular stimulation. The needles are sold by some companies as “acupuncture needles” but their use is no longer exclusive to acupuncturists. Dry needling contrasts with the use of a hollow hypodermic needle to inject substances such as saline solution, botox or corticosteroids to the same point. Such use of a solid needle has been found to be as effective as injection of substances in such cases as relief of pain in muscles and connective tissue. Analgesia produced by needling a pain spot has been called the needle effect. Acupuncture and dry needling techniques are similar; this was acknowledged by the developers of the technique. “Trigger points and Acupuncture. The distinction between TrPs and acupuncture points for the relief of pain is blurred for a number of good reasons. First… Second, as reported by Melzack, et al., there is a high degree of correspondence (71% based on their analysis) between published locations of TrPs and classical acupuncture points for the relief of pain. Third, a number of studies report similar results when needling TrPs using acupuncture needles as when using hypodermic needles with injected solution.”. What distinguishes dry needling from traditional acupuncture is that it does not use the full range of traditional theories of Chinese Medicine. Dry needling would be most directly comparable to the use of so-called ‘a-shi’ points in acupuncture. The debated distinction between dry needling and acupuncture has become a controversy because it relates to an issue of scope of practice of various professions.
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