Acupuncture vs. Dry Needling - What's the Difference?


People often ask what the difference is between acupuncture and dry needling. Both techniques use acupuncture needles, but the treatment method is quite different.

In acupuncture, the needles are inserted into specific locations called acupuncture points, which are found along "meridians" (channels of energy) that run throughout the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this flow of energy is considered essential to health. In acupuncture, needles are often stimulated manually (such as by tapping) or electronically, and are usually left in for 15 to 30 minutes. This helps stimulate endorphins, which help to relieve pain, promote healing, and restore balance to body function.

In dry needling, the needle is inserted into "trigger points" in a muscle, to stimulate a release of tight bands that are impairing normal function. For each insertion, the needles don't stay in for more than a few seconds for each insertion. This technique can be particularly useful for more longstanding (chronic) muscular dysfunction.

At River East Physiotherapy, we have physiotherapists certified in both acupuncture and dry needling. We would be happy to talk to you about whether either of these treatments would be right for you.