Dry needling is a form of acupuncture typically performed by a chiropractor, physical therapist or licensed acupuncturist. The technique involves using an acupuncture needle to target trigger points and stimulate a twitch response from a specific muscle or group of muscles. Once the twitch has been achieved, the muscle is able to relax and naturally find homeostasis, resulting in pain relief and return of function.
Dry needling can be a very effective form of therapy particularly when muscles are overly tight or in spasm, causing pain. The primary difference in the quality of the dry needling experience and results you receive will depend on the training your practitioner has received. In the state of Texas, Licensed Acupuncturists receive 950+ hours of practice using needles on patients in addition to about 2000 hours of classroom work as part of their masters program. MD’s, PT’s and chiropractors receive as little as 50 hours in a weekend course to be "certified" in dry needling. Many of these practitioners go on to do more training, however they are not required to before treating patients.
In many cases, dry needling is not the most effective needling technique to use to achieve the results a patient is looking for. In fact, in many cases a Licensed Acupuncturist will use other techniques or may recommend not using needles at all! A full review of your symptoms, personal health history and health goals by a licensed acupuncturist will tell you what the recommended course of treatment is for you to achieve full function as fast as possible.