The fact that so many other disciplines are choosing to experiment with needling techniques highlights the growing regard for the potential positive health outcomes. Yet really, wouldn’t you rather have a professional guided by a 4000 year philosophy with at least 4 years of training (and in our case 6 years) rather than a branch treatment with 4 days of training?
Dry needling involves using needles to address musculoskeletal problems. Trigger points (TPs) as first described by two doctors, Travell and Simons, are hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle which are painful and can give rise to referred pain and motor dysfunction. They are found in palpable taut bands of muscle. Dry needling is when these trigger points are needled to alleviate muscular tension. This in turn helps address the musculoskeletal complaint and reduce pain.
Dry needling is a term used by various practitioners like a physiotherapist, doctor, massage therapist osteopath or chiropractor. Their training is post graduate and most often involving weekend courses as it is not usually the main technique applied in their treatments (AACMA).
Acupuncture is one branch of traditional Chinese medicine which can include; acupuncture, Chinese herbs, tuina (massage), moxabustion (heat treatment), cupping, exercise and dietary therapy. It is based on a philosophy of wholeness; maintaining health through the balancing of meridians or channels where qi (energy) and blood move. When there is an injury or ill health, there is blockage or stagnation and the acupuncture helps to move this and in turn facilitates health.
Quality acupuncture involves a comprehensive patient assessment including tongue and pulse observation, a Chinese medicine diagnosis and an individualised treatment plan. Appropriate needling methods and supplementary treatment can then be designed to match the patient’s circumstances. Acupuncturists combine both a traditional understanding of the body from a Chinese medicine perspective with modern innovations from current research and a western understanding of neuro-anatomy (muscles, bones, tendons and the nervous system) for the best patient outcome.
Acupuncture training is usually 4 years full-time and is a specialist field. As it is a whole approach to treatment and health, it can treat many complaints including; musculoskeletal problems (back/knee/neck/shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, tendon and joint ailments), women’s health issues (fertility, pregnancy, birth preparation, menopause, irregular menstrual cycles), gastrointestinal problems (irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diverticulosis, reflux), mental health (anxiety depression, stress) to name a few!
It’s important to be aware that the Health Practitioner National Law Act only allows practitioners registered with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA) to use the title ‘registered acupuncturist’. It does not stop anyone offering ‘dry needling’ or ‘acupuncture’ services, whether they are registered or not. All registered acupuncturists use single use sterilised needles.