What’s the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?

What’s the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?

What’s the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?

Are dry needling and acupuncture the same thing?

If you saw a photo of dry needling and acupuncture, you may be left wondering “what’s the difference?” On the surface, the procedures look almost identical as both use ultra-fine, stainless steel needles to treat pain. Look beyond that and you’ll find that acupuncture and dry needling are two very different treatments. Understanding the differences can go a long way in helping you decide which one is right for you.

What is dry needling?

Dry needling is done by a certified physiotherapist. It’s been gaining popularity because of how effective it is for treating musculoskeletal pain. Unlike acupuncture, dry needling uses only one needle. The thin needle doesn’t inject any fluid into the body and is inserted into areas called trigger points for a short period of time.

Trigger points are muscle knots that cause pain. They can be the results of sports injuries, accidents, poor posture, improper ergonomics, lack of movement, and psychological conditions like anxiety or depression. If left untreated, trigger points can develop into more serious issues such as chronic pain, mobility restrictions, decreased strength, headaches, and referred pain (pain felt in another part of the body other than its actual source).

Dry needling helps release trigger points and relieve muscle tension by causing small muscle cramps. If you’re feeling pain in more than one area, your physiotherapist will often treat several muscles in your arm, leg, and spine during the same appointment.

Dry needling is just one technique that’s part of a larger treatment plan. Your personalized care plan may also include a special exercise program, manual therapy, and more.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is administered by a registered acupuncturist. It’s an ancient Chinese therapy that’s been used for thousands of years to treat physical and mental conditions like pain, infertility, menstrual cramps, seasonal allergies, digestive issues, headaches and migraines, anxiety, depression, addiction, insomnia, and more. Some people even use acupuncture for cosmetic purposes as it can help minimize the look of wrinkles, improve acne, and brighten skin.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, all illnesses are caused by energy imbalances within the body. To enhance the flow of energy and overcome ailments, many needles are inserted into meridians, also known as energy pathways. Specific issues can be alleviated depending on which points are targeted and the needles are usually left in for 30 minutes to an hour.

Finding the right solution for you

At Royal Treatment Therapeutics, we’re proud to offer both dry needling and acupuncture services. We hope you have a better idea about the differences between the two services, however we understand if you’re still unsure as to which one is right for you.

If you still have questions, you’re more than welcome to come in for a FREE Discovery Visit with our top-rated team of acupuncturists or dry needling-certified physiotherapist, Urvi Panchal. During your no-obligation Discovery Visit, your therapist will address your health concerns, answer your questions, and review potential treatment options.


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