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Dry Needling vs Acupuncture

Updated: May 25, 2022

Dry needling is an effective therapy that has seen rapid growth in the past several years, especially in the United States. Many are excited about it, but few know exactly what it is. Lets dive into dry needling and how it differs from a similar therapy, acupuncture.

You may be familiar with acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture aims at restoring qi, or the body's vital energy, by placing needles in a grid of meridian locations (acupoints). It promotes spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health by balancing the body's opposing forces, yin and yang. (NCI Dictionary of Terms, 2022). With any given complaint, acupuncture needles are placed superficially in the skin both in the general area of complaint, as well as other connected meridians in the hands, feet and head. It is common to have 15-25 needles per session.

Acupuncture focuses on: digestive, emotional, eye-ear-throat, gynecological, musculoskeletal, neurological, respiratory, bladder/bowel.

Dry needling is different

Dry needling is a western medicine technique that has a more direct approach instead of energy flow. Practitioners identify which area or motion causes pain or dysfunction, and that directs the doctor to the specific muscles that are effected. Then 4-8 needles are inserted into the muscle belly, manipulated, and may be connected to e-stim to elicit localized muscle contractions. Dry needling also searches for "twitch responses," where the muscle involuntarily twitches as a result of needle placement. This indicates an effective treatment area.

​Dry needling excels at: musculoskeletal complaints, headaches, fascial pain

Why we focus on dry needling

There is no question that both techniques can effectively treat pain and dysfunction (Al-Boloushi et. al., 2019, Berger et. al., 2021, Gildr et. al., 2019). However, we have found that dry needling's western philosophy and direct treatment approach better addresses musculoskeletal injuries, which is our focus at Price Chiropractic. Dry needling has provided remarkable and fast results for issues that have struggled to respond to joint manipulation or muscle work alone.

Our practitioners that provide dry needling:


Al-Boloushi, Z., López-Royo, M., Arian, M., Gómez-Trullén, E., & Herrero, P. (2019). Minimally invasive non-surgical management of plantar fasciitis: A systematic review. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 23(1), 122–137.

Berger, A. A., Liu, Y., Mosel, L., Champagne, K. A., Ruoff, M. T., Cornett, E. M., Kaye, A. D., Imani, F., Shakeri, A., Varrassi, G., Viswanath, O., & Urits, I. (2021). Efficacy of Dry Needling and Acupuncture in the Treatment of Neck Pain. Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, 11(2).

Gildir, S., Tüzün, E. H., Eroğlu, G., & Eker, L. (2019). A randomized trial of trigger point dry needling versus sham needling for chronic tension-type headache. Medicine, 98(8), e14520.

NCI Dictionary of Terms. (2022). National Cancer Institute.

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