What is the difference between Acupuncture and Dry Needling?
By Blake Goehring, Physiotherapist
The term ‘dry needling’ describes inserting a needle into the body without injecting anything through it. For example, when you get a booster shot or get blood taken, there is a fluid that is either injected in or withdrawn from the body. A dry needle is simply a filament type piece of steel that is only fractions of a millimeter thick that slides through the skin to a target tissue. At Stride, we have therapists that do both: Acupuncture and Intramuscular Stimulation, which both fit under the umbrella term of a dry needle.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture uses a pre-set map on your body; where and how deep the needles go are predetermined and located along 12 different energy channels in the body. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, energy termed “Qi” flows through these channels and dysfunction occurs when these channels become blocked or obstructed. A Western Medicine perspective explains that the needles are inserted into areas close to the nerves, which helps the nervous system to stimulate healing, promote blood flow, and mobilize the body’s immune system.
What is Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) or Functional Dry Needling (FDN)?
Intramuscular Stimulation or Functional Dry Needling uses a similar needle to that used in acupuncture with a vastly different technique. IMS/FDN targets trigger points or “knots” built up in localized areas of a muscle. Picture this: a trigger point happens when a small contractile unit of the muscle gets stuck in the overlap and cannot relax. This might feel like a taut, fibrous band when you rub your fingers over a tender area in your muscle. IMS/FDN aims to target that trigger point which elicits a muscle twitch, essentially resetting that muscle.
Does it hurt?
Acupuncture and Dry Needling feel quite different once the needle penetrates the skin. Acupuncture is often painless and can be associated with a mild ache when the needles are left in for a length of time. As previously described, dry needling causes a muscle to twitch, which can be experienced as painful or a deep ache. Dry needles can be stimulated by attaching cords to the needles that contain circulating electricity.
Which type of needling is right for me?
Of the two needling techniques, Acupuncture is typically described as milder and perhaps better for more acute situations involving swelling and inflammation. If your problem has a chronic nature or your target tissue that is causing your issues or problems is deep then dry needling might be the better approach for you.
At Stride, our therapists are experienced and qualified to thoroughly assess your needs and find the most effective form of treatment that is personalized for you. To learn more: call 403-343-8891 or Book your appointment online.