When someone hears the term dry needling the image of needles being placed all over the body in the interest of health is what typically comes to mind. This is an accurate depiction of what dry needling involves. The part of this picture that cannot be appreciated is the philosophy that governs the application of this technique.
Traditionally, dry needling is applied as part of an Eastern Medicine approach to illness, known as Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM. This approach has an amazing history dating back thousands of years in China. The Eastern medical approach is vastly different than the Western Medical Approach we use here in the USA. This is not to imply the superiority of one approach to the other, but rather to emphasize two treatment paradigms that do not mix. At its core, the traditional approach is based on the balance of a vital energy force believed to flow throughout the body in channels called meridians. If you are looking for dry needling near me then must not worry because now you can easily find some good dry needling centers.
There are numerous meridians, most of which are named after organs of the body. Interestingly, the dry needling points and the meridians on which they lie are not based on anatomic structures. The actual points on the body where the needles are placed are based primarily on tradition, not the specific structures in which the needles are inserted. Further, it is important to realize that dry needling makes up only a portion of the total TCM approach.
In Western medicine, we have no equivalence to Qi or meridians. We have found, however, that the use of dry needling is very powerful. The Western use of dry needling is vast and unfamiliar to many people. Terms such as medical dry needling, dry needling, intramuscular manual therapy and acutherapy all denote the use of dry needles in differing models, some of which involve the use of TCM. Physicians using these techniques include physical therapists, chiropractors and acupuncturist. Individuals using TCM exclusively have completed specialized training in TCM only and not need to be licensed medical professionals in any Western Medical approach. This is important information for patients to understand if they choose to receive dry needling from any provider.
Many practitioners also use the terms acupuncture to describe dry needling technique and philosophy. This philosophy is grounded in a Western Medical approach, and I make it a point to educate my patients on what and why we may choose to use dry needling as part of a treatment for musculoskeletal dysfunction and pain. The use of dry needling is grounded in the body’s physiologic responses to the needles. This response involves the nervous, immune, and musculoskeletal systems. Many of the muscular points and the radiating pain they produced were documented in the myofascial pain syndromes. As such, this is an anatomic approach; meaning needles are applied specifically based on anatomic structures in contrast to the meridian system of TCM.