Dry Needling – The Great Debate
Dry needling, formally known as Myofascial Trigger Point Dry Needling, is very much like acupuncture, but it is not to be confused with it. As the name suggests, the needles used contain no medication and are placed strategically on problem areas based on western medicine. Whereas, acupuncture is a well-known old eastern medicine technique to enhance energy flow. Despite various studies that failed to find any scientific proof of dry needling’s effectiveness, patients are loving the procedure. You could go as far to say that it’s become the new “cupping”.
Why is dry needling so popular?
As comforting as jabbing needles into the source of the pain sounds, people can’t stop raving about dry needling. The testimonials are overwhelming and convincing enough to create a demand for it. Most of these happy patients are calling it the cure to runner’s knee.
But, to this day, there is no evidence to back up these claims. In fact, acupuncturists and PTs don’t seem to have a firm grasp on how dry needling actually works. There are studies looking to better answer this. Until then, theories will continue to circulate. Many believe that there’s a simple answer: it’s a placebo effect.
The problem with dry needling
Placebo effect or lack of scientific evidence is hardly a reason to the ban practice of dry needling. However, lack of regulations will. Dry needling is banned from nearly half of the states in the U.S. and acupuncturists are hoping that number will increase.
Acupuncturists believe that dry needling is essentially the same as acupuncture, therefore should be regulated as such. But, physical therapists believe that the training and licensing is not necessary because a basic understanding of anatomy is sufficient. Worst case scenario is the lack of training leads to accidents, such as, damaging a nerve, blood vessels, or even puncturing a lung. For the sake of the safety of the public, the AMA recently unanimously adopted a policy to regulate dry needling and agreeing with acupuncturists.
The AMA policy states, “to include dry needling into the scope of practice by physical therapists is unnecessarily to expose the public to serious and potentially hazardous risks. Because of this we feel a duty to inform legislators and regulating bodies about the inherent danger to the public of this practice.” Where do you stand on the great dry needling debate?