According to the APTA, many providers consider dry needling “a safe, easy-to-learn, minimally discomforting, and often-effective technique for patients with certain presentations.” Yet, it remains a controversial practice. Much of the concern lies in the fact that this modality involves piercing the skin; many acupuncturists would argue that PTs don’t have the expertise to perform this type of manual therapy. However, many physical therapists argue that even though the needles they use for dry needling are the same ones acupuncturists use, the treatments greatly differ. As this PT Renaissance article points out, “Dry Needling must not be confused with any type of acupuncture. Whereas acupuncture is founded on Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dry Needling is based on Western anatomical and physiological principles. It is founded by scientific concepts and it continues to evolve using the latest research.” That’s why, in most states, dry needling is accepted within the scope of practice for PTs. And in “the remaining states, clinicians...are working with their state boards to gain acceptance of this technique,” explains this Kinetacore article.
Moreover, this highly-debated practice does have benefits:
- According to this APTA article, “Clinical research suggests that dry needling helps reduce local and peripheral pain and sensitization, thereby hastening the restoration of muscle function and range of motion.”
- It offers immediate symptom relief. (Source: NCBI)
- “The deep method of dry needling has been shown to be more effective than the superficial one for the treatment of pain associated with myofascial trigger points.” (Source: JABFM)
As with any treatment, PTs must complete training to properly use this technique. In addition to undergoing extensive education, therapists should pay attention to the tools they use to perform dry needling. For example, Myotech needles by iDryNeedle offer an advantage over other dry needles used in the PT space. These needles were designed exclusively for Triggerpoint Dry Needling or Intramuscular Manual Therapy, and they feature:
- High-grade German surgical stainless steel
- Parylene-coated needle shafts
- Micro-channeled needle bodies
All of these enhancements improve patient comfort and clinician dexterity while providing a smoother insertion into deeper tissue layers. WebPT Members who practice dry needling as outlined by their state practice acts can now purchase iDryNeedles at a discount in the WebPT Marketplace.
Does your state practice act allow for dry needling? Have your patients benefited from this treatment? Let us know in the comments section below.