Dry needling is defined as a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate:

  • underlying myofascial trigger points
  • muscular and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments

During treatment a local twitch response (LTR aka muscle contracture) is activated which in turn triggers a number response in the tissue that allow for relaxation to occur. Some of these responses include:

  • mechanical disruption of the integrity of dysfunctional endplates
  • alterations in the length and tension of muscle fibers and stimulation of mechanoreceptors
  • increased muscle blood flow and oxygenation
  • endogenous opioid release affecting peripheral and central sensitization

Dry Needling vs Acupuncture Differences

Dry needling vs acupuncture overlap in terms of needling technique with solid filiform needles as well as some fundamental theories. Western Medical Acupuncture and dry needling are based on modern biomedical understandings of the human body. Although dry needling arguably represents only one subcategory of Western Medical Acupuncture. The increasing volume of research into needling therapy explains its growing popularity in the musculoskeletal field including sports medicine.


Because of the close relationship between dry needling and acupuncture, collaboration rather than dispute between acupuncturists and other healthcare professionals should be encouraged with respect to:

  • education
  • research
  • practice for the benefit of patients with musculoskeletal conditions who require needling therapy


Acupuncture Today

John Amaro, Lac, DC, Dipl. Ac (NCCAOM), DiplMed.Ac (IAMA) in Acupuncture Today, 2007: “I feel it is imperative that the practitioners of acupuncture and TCM styles of acupuncture absorb the philosophy and procedure of dry needling as an adjunct for musculoskeletal pain control into their practice. It is a viable, explainable and scientifically accepted pain-control procedure.”

Journal of Orthopedic Sports Physical Therapy

The conclusion of effectiveness of dry needling for upper quarter of your body based on the current available evidence, we recommend dry needling, compared to sham or placebo, for decreasing pain immediately after treatment and at 4 weeks in patients with upper quarter MPS.


According to Spine, an international peer-reviewed periodical: The data suggest that acupuncture and dry-needling may be useful adjuncts to other therapies for chronic low back pain.

Is functional dry needling the same thing as acupuncture?

One similarity between Dry Needling vs Acupuncture is the type of needle used. Dr. Baker will examine and assess your neuromuscular system in office prior to deciding. The actual needle insertion points are based on assessment and knowledge of neuroanatomy to neutralize hyper-irritable areas within the muscle. The goal of dry needling is to decrease your pain and restore function. It is relaxing and therapeutic procedure of osteopathic treatment, and is suitable for conditions such as:

  • back and neck pain
  • tendonitis
  • sporting injuries
  • discomfort caused by poor posture

What can a person expect to feel after a session of dry needling?

Some individuals do not actually feel the needle at all during the technique. If an active trigger point is treated, there may be:

  • twitching sensation
  • shooting sensation that mimics the actual pain referral pattern
  • deep dull ache
  • slight sting
  • mild cramping sensation

Most people are surprised that the technique is really quite comfortable or at least very tolerable. Afterwards, there may be an immediate reduction in pain symptoms, or a little muscle soreness that subsides with resumption of normal activity. We actually encourage our patients to immediately resume their normal activities to reduce the chance of soreness. The main thing we look for is an improvement in mobility, flexibility, and strength.

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