Some of my patients have reported to me that they have been offered “dry needling” by their physical therapists. And these same physical therapists told them that dry needling is not acupuncture!! I have even heard that chiropractors are “dry needling.” It’s my opinion that anyone who claims they are not doing acupuncture (using acupuncture needles for the therapy) because they don’t use traditional Chinese medicine methods is misleading the public.
There are teachers who profit from short training programs in the procedure of dry needling trigger point therapy (TPDN). It’s possible that physical therapists and chiropractors are charging acupuncture codes for insurance reimbursement or charging extra for their “dry needling.”
1. At the present time there are no externally monitored standards of training for TPDN, and hence no baseline of competency or safety for the public.
2. TPDN as it is currently being promoted drives patients to less qualified practitioners.
3. TPDN is equivalent to acupuncture under many state laws. Without careful safeguards, sloppy legislation will lead to inconsistencies in statutes and inequality in billing. This could potentially lead to law suits to correct these inequalities.
4. Eleven states have banned this practice outright including CA, FL, NJ, and NY.
5. In some instances physical therapists have learned TPDN in workshops that have provided demos with no hands on practice with only 27 hours of training.
6. Currently, there is no certification exam, registration process or required clinic hours of practice for physical therapists and chiropractors in our state. The Physical Therapy Association believes 40 hours or less is all that is needed in order to perform this invasive needling technique. This is a far cry from the 200 to 300 hours that state statute requires for physicians to take.
Contrary to their assertions, acupuncture IS intramuscular manual therapy, trigger point needling, functional dry needling, intramuscular stimulation or any other method by which a needle is inserted to effect therapeutic change. When other words are used to justify unsafe or unusual training practices, it poses distinct ethical problems when viewed from the interest of the common good.
I think the North Carolina Acupuncture licensing Board (NCALB) states it very nicely: “The insertion of an acupuncture needle into the dermis, muscular or fascia tissue with the intention of promotion, maintenance, restoration of health and the prevention of disease is indeed the practice of acupuncture.”*
*NCALB. Dry needling is Intramuscular Manual Therapy is Acupuncture. Post office Box 10686; Raleigh, NC,27605