What is Dry Needling and what is the difference between Dry Needling and Acupuncture? 

WHAT IS DRY NEEDLING?

Dry Needling is a treatment technique where thin filiform needles are inserted through the skin into pathological areas of the muscle known as "trigger points" for the purpose of relieving myofascial pain and muscle spasm. These are the same needles used in traditional acupuncture therapy, they are solid rather than hollow, and no medication is injected.

Dry needling is used in conjunction with other manual therapy techniques and therapeutic exercise.

When performing dry needling, there may be a "twitch response" where the specific band of muscle involuntarily contracts in response to insertion of the needle.  Beneficial effects can occur without elicitation of the twitch response.  Sometimes electrotherapy is also applied with the trigger point needling technique, this is referred to as electroacupuncture. If electroacupuncture is considered appropriate, small clips are attached to specific needling locations and a mild electrical current is applied. Electrical muscle stimulation aids in stimulating blood flow, reducing pain and relieving muscular spasm. 

In the State of California, the only providers who can legally perform these types of needling techniques are licensed acupuncturists and medical doctors. A licensed acupuncturist's education and training in needling techniques requires a Master's degree obtained after 3 years of education and training. 

Compared to Dry Needling, Acupuncture, when applied as a form of traditional Chinese medicine, uses acupuncture points on the surface of the body that are located along "meridians" that correspond with the internal organs and the energies associated with those organs. Traditional acupuncture techniques aim to relieve congestion of energy and blood, thereby restoring circulation and reducing symptoms associated with said qi (energy) stagnation.