Acupuncture vs Dry Needling: Knowing the Difference


by Dr. Bianca Beldini, DPT, MSOM

There has been a debate raging over the past few years between the medical community and Acupuncturists. We (Acupuncturists) use the needle as our primary mode of treatment. This one and only modality that is unique to the field of Acupuncture is being infringed upon by MD’s, PT’s, Chiropractors, DO’s and Podiatrists. If you haven’t heard the buzz, it’s time you become informed and begin to understand the similarities and differences. An informed patient is an educated patient and an educated patient can make the right choices for their own health and wellness.


What you need to know:
~ An Acupuncturists education and practical experience BEFORE they ever touch a patient includes upwards of 3,000 hours vs. the 24 hours a PT needs to complete a weekend certification in needling.

~ The term “Dry Needling” is an ACUPUNCTURE TECHNIQUE. It is NOT a separate modality as PTs/MDs would like you to believe. It is a needling strategy that elicits a “twitch response” from the myofascial layer, an efficient technique that an Acupuncturist uses when treating any muscular dysfunction. This needling technique was first described in a Chinese medical text called the “Yellow Emperors Inner Classic” dating back 2,000 years in which “lifting, thrusting and pistoning” of the needle is the EXACT strategy one uses to dry needle which clearly defines it as Acupuncture.

~ The Physical Therapy community would like you to believe that their education in anatomy and embryology validates their inadequate weekend course to become certified “dry needlers”. Would you consider taking prescription advice from someone that took a 24 hour Pharmaceutical class? Or how about being adjusted by a practitioner that took a weekend manipulation course?

~ It is ILLEGAL in the state of NY for a Physical Therapist to be needling. It is legally NOT within their scope of practice and under no circumstances should they be piercing the skin with a needle.

~ Sr-44ome insurance companies get around covering Acupuncture by restricting it to being performed by an MD only (MD’s have very limited education in Acupuncture/Dry Needling). These insurance restrictions go against state mandates and the Affordable Care Act. The only way to make this restriction change and to have your insurance cover Acupuncture is to have you as the consumer push back
against the insurance company. You have a voice!

~ Only Acupuncturists sit for a clean needle technique and national board exam which tests proficiency of knowing tissue depths, insertion angles and needling care. All other non-Acupuncture practitioners are not held accountable to these standards of practice nor do they take any proficiency state or nationally recognized exams.

~ Acupuncture, Dry Needling and Trigger Point Needling are synonymous ONLY when performed by a certified Acupuncture practitioner.

~ Now that you are informed, leave the needling to those who do it best!

All practitioners at Sundala SPECIALIZE in treating most musculoskeletal pain patients with a combination of Acupuncture and Dry Needling, ( The Sundala Method™.)

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