Acupuncture Or Dry Needling: What Is The Difference?

April 10, 2018


Types of Needling


You may not realise there are different types of acupuncture and those who do, aren’t always sure what that difference is. Why is this important? Because the experience is not the same and neither is the effectiveness. 


Acupuncture carried out by most physiotherapists or osteopaths is often referred to as dry needling. It involves the same fine filament needles that traditional acupuncturist use. But, this is where the similarity ends.


What Are Trigger Points?

Physiotherapists or Osteopaths who perform dry needling often target trigger points. These are points of particular sensitivity. They often use a needling technique that elicits a twitch in the muscle they are targeting. This is an ancient technique used in Chinese Acupuncture where the ‘trigger’ points are referred to Ah Shi points. Located by palpation and not necessarily on a meridian these points are sensitive areas. Essentially trigger points and Ah Shi points are the same thing.   


Why do Traditional Acupuncturists talk of Qi (Chi) and Meridians/Channels?

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture is based on ancient theory that throughout the body energy (Qi) flows, both inside the body and on the surface. These flows of energy have points where the Qi is easier to access. These points when needled can have an effect elsewhere in the body helping the body to heal itself and bring about homeostasis (balance). Although this can sound far-fetched and unscientific it is a method of healing that has been shown to work over centuries of fine-tuning. Now Science is starting to catch up and studies are being conducted to show the effects acupuncture has on the body.  


So what is different? 



A Traditional Chinese acupuncturist in the UK ungoes  3,600 hours of training which includes a minimum of 400 hours in supervised clinical setting and 200 hours managing a patient case load. This ensures a huge amount of experience in using an manipulating the needles and understanding the effects. By comparison physiotherapists can train in as little as 16 hours, that’s just 2 days. Need I say more!



Traditional Chines