What is the Difference between Dry Needling and Acupuncture

Dry Needling and Acupuncture both use small needles that are strategically placed, so what is the difference between the two techniques?


It is believed that the practice of Acupuncture started somewhere around 100 BC in China. The body has a natural flow of energy called Qi, and that energy flows through channels in a person’s body. These channels are called meridians and acupuncture helps remove the blockage of energy (Qi) within a person’s body that is causing them pain or other conditions. Fast forward thousands of years, and these practices are still used today.

Acupuncture is almost completely painless. Some people mention a small tingle as the needles are placed, but that tingle quickly disappears and they feel themselves relax as the stagnant Qi is released. Acupuncture has been proven to help alleviate a multitude of conditions such as Asthma & Allergies, Stress Reduction, Digestion Issues,Sciatica and much more.

Dry Needling

Dry needling was created in the 1940’s with Dr. Janet Travell and Dr. David G. Simon. They identified most of the trigger points within the body that can cause pain. In the late 1970’s Dr. C. Gunn donned the term Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS). Doctors noticed that when a hypodermic needle was inserted into a knotted muscle, it would hit a trigger point that would cause the muscle to spasm and release the tension within the area of the penetrated needle. The “spasm” is caused by the spinal nerves sending signals reacting to the pain of the needle insertion. Dry needling can be painful as it creates spasms in the knotted muscle area, and with some people; depending on their muscle sensitivity, can have muscle soreness for days following the procedure.

Dry needling is not intended to treat issues with Qi or release toxins from the body through natural cleansing of the lymphatic system as acupuncture does. Also, dry needling only treats the symptoms of pain, not the cause, but dry needling can release tension in muscle groups. Typically, dry needling is used for pain management and sports rehabilitation.

What is the Difference Between a Doctor of Acupuncture and a Dry Needing Specialist?

There are different levels of education required for Acupuncture and Dry Needling. Acupuncture requires a 4-year Master’s program that includes oriental medicine, different needle techniques and an understanding of traditional Chinese medicine theory. Dry needling requires a minimum of 27 hours of training. This can be done through specific courses or through workshop training within therapy education. There are a multitude of courses available, and some offer different techniques that can be utilized with dry needling.

The Doctors of Advanced Sports & Family Chiropractor & Acupuncture are trained and educated with both Western Doctors of Acupuncture and Eastern Practitioners. We are here to help you live a healthy and pain free life

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6701 West 121st Street (Suite #200) 
Overland Park, KS 66209 

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Lee's Summit, MO 64063