Dry Needling vs Acupuncture: All you need to know

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Given we offer dry needling at Enhanced Living, we sometimes get asked what is the difference between dry needling vs acupuncture.

If you are unsure of the difference between dry needling vs acupuncture, you need to read this!

Dry needling is an evidence based technique widely used by thousands of practitioners around the world to treat aches and pains throughout the body to treat neuromuscular conditions, relieve pain, and/or improve range of motion.

Acupuncture is a modality that has been practised for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to improve energy flow or ‘chi’ through the body.

Both dry needling and acupuncture use very fine needles to elicit a change or reaction within the body.

However, today we will explore the difference between the two techniques and how dry needling works better for reducing soft tissue pain vs acupuncture.

So what is the main difference?

While both Dry Needling and Acupuncture involve placing thin needles into specific locations around the body, that is where the similarities end. Acupuncture places needles into specific spots around the body to release energy and allow proper flow through the meridian lines of ancient Chinese medicine. Dry needling is based upon more modern Western medicine methods and involves inserting needles into trigger points or tight bands within the muscles. Dry needling is used to reduce pain throughout the muscles and joints while also allowing the muscles to function optimally.

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How does Dry Needling work?

As mentioned above, Dry Needling works by inserting thin needles into specific trigger points or tight bands within the muscles. Inserting the needle into these locations releases the tightness within the muscle which allows the muscle to function optimally or reducing the amount of pain experienced, depending on the reason the needling is being completed.

Trigger points can be used to address localised pain around the specific point or referred pain associated with the trigger point. Referred pain is when a specific muscle or trigger point presents as pain within another location, often a joint or attachment associated with the muscle that the trigger point is located within. A great example of this is the muscles that make up the calf. While it is commonly known that these muscles are located just below the knee on the back of the leg, the pain and discomfort can often present in the heel or beneath the arch of the foot.

Is Dry Needling the cure?

Dry needling is effective in reducing pain and restoring function, however it is only one part of the treatment. Trigger points are produced by a chemical imbalance within the muscles that results from prolonged contraction within the filaments of the muscles. This can occur after a prolonged bout of exercise or a prolonged posture such as sitting at a desk and typing!

While trigger pointing can provide immediate relief and improved function, this will usually only last for 48-72 hours unless the underlying cause is addressed. By identifying the underlying reason the trigger point is occurring and addressing this, the long-term treatment of the pain and dysfunction can begin. The most important aspect of all treatment is the combined approach, using dry needling and therapeutic exercise concurrently to address and manage the problem at hand.

You can find out all about Enhanced Living’s Dry Needling treatments and book your appointment now so you can start feeling and moving better.

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