Dry needling is the use of solid filiform needles for therapy of muscle pain, sometimes also known as intramuscular stimulation. Dry needling is different from acupuncture in that it is only one subset of the complete medicine and described only in western medical terminology. The needles used are called acupuncture needles and are Class II federally regulated medical devices manufactured for and considered safe for use in the practice of acupuncture. Although sometimes referred to as "Filiform needles" or "Dry needles" there are no such federally approved medical devices.
Dry needling contrasts with the use of a hollow hypodermic needle to inject substances such as saline solution, botox or corticosteroids to the same point. Such use of a solid needle has been found to be as effective as injection of substances in such cases as relief of pain in muscles and connective tissue. Analgesia produced by needling a pain spot has been called the needle effect.
Dry needling for the treatment of myofascial (muscular) trigger points is based on theories similar, but not exclusive, to traditional acupuncture; however, dry needling targets the trigger points, which is the direct and palpable source of patient pain, rather than the traditional “meridians”, accessed via acupuncture. The distinction between trigger points and acupuncture points for the relief of pain is blurred. As reported by Melzack, et al., there is a high degree of correspondence (71% based on their analysis) between published locations of trigger points and classical acupuncture points for the relief of pain. What distinguishes dry needling from traditional acupuncture is that it does not use the full range of traditional theories of Chinese Medicine. Dry needling would be most directly comparable to the use of so-called 'a-shi' points in acupuncture. The debated distinction between dry needling and acupuncture has become a controversy because it relates to an issue of scope of practice of various professions. Source: Wikipedia
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