Over the past few years, dry needling has become a popular therapy for athletes, active individuals, or anyone looking to squash their pain. But as with any medical treatment, it’s crucial that you do your research before going “under the needle.”
Dry needling is safe and effective when performed by a fully trained licensed acupuncturist. The problem is, dry needling isn’t regulated and many practitioners that offer dry needling therapy do not have the training, expertise, or gentle approach of an acupuncturist.
Let’s learn more about this “new” ancient therapy and the main reasons you should head to your local acupuncturist for safe and effective dry needling!
What Is Dry Needling?
Dry needling, or intramuscular stimulation, is a treatment designed to reduce muscle pain by releasing trigger points or knots. It is called “dry” needling because these needles are solid and have no medicine or fluid in them.
While modern dry needling has become popular among chiropractors, physical therapists, and other practitioners, ancient Chinese medicine practitioners invented dry needling long before modern scientists acknowledged trigger point therapy. In Chinese medicine, this style of acupuncture is called ashi, or trigger point acupuncture. It uses a needle to release muscle knots and focus treatment on a local area.
Today, all acupuncturists are highly trained in treating ashi points, the original dry needling technique. But, acupuncturists rarely use this technique alone. It is usually part of a comprehensive treatment plan strategically designed to fix the root issues causing your pain.
What Is a Dry Needling Treatment Like?
A traditional dry needling session typically involves a pain assessment and in-and-out needling techniques with the needles quickly inserted and removed in a pecking fashion. The treatment can cause mild soreness but is generally comfortable when done by a well-trained practitioner.
Sometimes, your experience may seem different. The needles are retained in the body for a period of time in various areas that are not trigger points, or they are attached to an e-stim machine. These are all traditional acupuncture techniques and should only be done by an experienced and licensed acupuncturist.
What Are the Benefits of Dry Needling?
Dry needling can be helpful for treating muscle stiffness and pain. Here are a few of the most common benefits of dry needling and ashi trigger point acupuncture:
- Relaxation of muscle spasms
- Reduced muscle pain and tightness
- Reduced chronic or acute pain (back, knee, neck, hip, elbow, and more)
- Improved range of motion
5 Reasons Your Acupuncturist Is the Best Place to Get Dry Needling
If you struggle with pain, soreness, lack of range of motion, or sports injuries, dry needling can help. But, where you get your dry needling treatment matters. A licensed acupuncturist offers the best dry needling experience, results, and safety. Here’s why:
1. Acupuncturists have the most expert needle training in dry needling and beyond.
When it comes to your health, you deserve the best. And when it comes to dry needling, a licensed acupuncturist is the gold standard!
Trained acupuncturists receive over 660 clinical training hours and between 3-4 years of training in needling technique, anatomy, safety measures, diagnosis, and more. They also have several years of supervised practice before needling their own patients.
In comparison, chiropractors or physical therapists that practice dry needling often have less than 30 hours of needle training done over a brief weekend workshop. While this may be enough time to understand the basics of trigger point therapy, it doesn’t allow enough time to develop the effective and refined needling technique that acupuncturists get in their years of training.
It is also important to note that true “dry needling” is a technique where a needle is inserted in-and-out into a trigger point to manage muscle pain. Any “dry needling” technique where the needles remain in the body for more than a few seconds, or it claims to treat anything other than muscle pain, is actually acupuncture and should only be performed by a licensed acupuncturist.
2. Acupuncturists offer the safest dry needling technique.
Along with the extra years of acupuncture, training comes safer and more effective needling techniques. Working with an acupuncturist means you will be able to:
Acupuncture and dry needling are safe when done by a licensed practitioner. But, if done by someone with little training in keeping needles sterile, you could be at risk of infection. Thankfully, all licensed acupuncturists are certified in the Clean Needle Technique, a program that ensures the safe use and discarding of needles used for medical treatments.
Avoid unnecessary bruising and bleeding:
Bruising and bleeding are rare side effects of acupuncture and dry needling. Unfortunately, they are more common when working with an inexperienced practitioner. Acupuncturists spend years perfecting their needling technique to offer you the most comfortable, side-effect-free experience possible.
Get the most regulated care possible:
Dry needling is not currently well-regulated, which means nearly anyone can start practicing it in some locations. Unfortunately, this makes it incredibly difficult to know if the practitioner is well-trained or not.
Since there is no standardized training, supervision requirements, or dry needling licensure, it is essential that you seek out a well-trained acupuncturist when getting any type of dry needling. Acupuncturists have proven their understanding of safety measures and needle techniques through their acupuncture medical license.
3. Acupuncturists often achieve better results with less discomfort.
Dry needling or ashi needling tends to be slightly more intense than traditional acupuncture, but it shouldn’t hurt. Unfortunately, some people find the experience painful. Strong pain usually happens when the practitioner isn’t trained to sense the subtle changes in tissues as they insert the needle or perform unnecessarily vigorous treatments.
An acupuncturist, however, spends years perfecting their needle sensitivity and technique to get better results with less discomfort. An acupuncturist can also use various treatment styles (like Japanese acupuncture or non-needle techniques) to make the treatment enjoyable, even if you’re particularly sensitive to needles.
4. Acupuncturists treat pain comprehensively – not just in the local area.
Pain is rarely a localized issue, even if you only feel discomfort in one specific area. For instance, that pain in your low back could actually be stemming from your hip, your ankle, or even your digestion!
For this reason, acupuncturists are trained to consider the whole body when treating your pain. When we treat pain from the root – and not just the site of pain – we get better relief, faster results, and a better chance of full recovery.
For this reason, dry needling is an excellent add-on therapy to a more comprehensive pain-relief acupuncture treatment plan rather than a stand-alone treatment.
5. Acupuncturists can help you with more than just pain.
When you visit an acupuncturist, you are getting a truly holistic experience! Acupuncture is well-known for improving pain conditions, but it can treat so much more. Even if your main complaint is pain, you’ll likely experience improved digestion, sounder sleep, reduced stress, and a better overall sense of wellbeing with regular acupuncture visits.
Dry needling alone can only treat issues related to trigger points and muscle pain. So, if you’re looking for a well-rounded approach to relieving pain and improving your health on all fronts, it’s time to seek out a licensed acupuncturist.
Find Safe and Expert Dry Needling in Denver
Dry needling and acupuncture can help you relieve your pain naturally so you can get back to doing the things you love most.
Whether you’re looking for fast and effective pain relief or a whole-body health reset, Wellnest Denver can help. Our licensed acupuncturist, Garryn Skurulsky, L.Ac, has undergone advanced training in pain-relief acupuncture and dry needling techniques so you can rest easy knowing you’re safe in competent hands.