Dry Needling vs Acupuncture: Differences, Benefits & How to Choose


Musculoskeletal Acupuncture

I mentioned in my previous blog I would provide you with more information on one of the treatments we use here at Healthproof to address myofascial trigger points


As we know from the previous blog, myofascial trigger points are a spot of tenderness found within a taut band of muscle which may or may not refer to other areas. It is a deep pain reproduced with hard palpation or stretching of the taut band.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been using myofascial trigger points in acupuncture for over 3000 years. Many myofascial trigger points are found on or around the TCM acupuncture points. Even the referral patterns of the myofascial trigger points are often similar to the acupuncture meridians.

So why do we have the name ‘dry needling’ instead of just calling it ‘acupuncture’?

The difference is in the way we diagnose. Western medicine uses signs, symptoms, referral patterns and palpation to diagnose a myofascial trigger point whilst TCM uses a system based on organ dysfunction, life force and blood to identify acupuncture points.

But, in the end, we use the same treatment for both Western and Chinese Medicine….. NEEDLING!

Dry Needling/Acupuncture involves the penetration of a needle at the identified site which results in a mechanical stimulation of the tissues around the needle and subsequently stimulates a physiological and psychological response. It is the penetration of the skin and subsequent tissue damage which causes the release of chemicals from the brain to act at the site of damage to repair the surrounding tissues.

If you are a patient receiving dry needling from one of our physiotherapists you might wonder what it will feel like and what it will look like. What do we expect to happen?

The physiotherapist will needle into the identified trigger point seeking what we call a twitch response. That is exactly what you would expect to feel and see… a twitch in the muscle. It is also not uncommon to experience numbness, aching, referred pain or even a sharp feeling. The therapist may then manipulate the needle once inserted creating a pulling sensation which will eventually desensitise the tissues. Some redness around the needle site is expected so don’t worry. If anything, it is a great sign as it indicates the needles have stimulated the inflammatory response we seek with this treatment.

Now you have a bit more understanding of one of our treatment modalities here at Healthproof, we recommend you come and give Dry Needling a try!

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