Thank you for following our blog. We recently had a question asked about “Dry needling” and acupuncture and whether they were the same or different. Today, we will be discussing two very interesting treatment techniques – dry needling and acupuncture. Both are very useful in their own ways, but they also have some differences that you might like to know about. Let’s dive in!

What are Dry Needling and Acupuncture?

First, let’s start with what they are. Dry needling and acupuncture both involve the use of thin, sterile needles that are inserted into specific points on the body. But that’s where most of their similarities end.


Acupuncture is an ancient practice that originated in China over 2,000 years ago. It’s a key component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). According to TCM, our bodies have a natural energy flow, known as ‘qi’ or ‘chi’. When this flow is blocked or unbalanced, it can cause illness or discomfort. Acupuncture is believed to restore this balance by targeting specific points, known as ‘acupoints’, along the body’s energy pathways, or ‘meridians’.

Dry Needling

On the other hand, dry needling is a modern treatment developed in the 20th century and is based on Western anatomical and neurophysiological principles. Dry needling is used to ease muscular pain. The needles are inserted into ‘trigger points’, or tight knots of muscle that can be felt under the skin. These trigger points can cause pain over a large area. When the needle is inserted into these points, it can help to release the knot and relieve the associated pain.

The Similarities

There are a few similarities between dry needling and acupuncture:

  1. Both use thin, sterile needles.
  2. Both are minimally invasive techniques.
  3. Both target specific points on the body to alleviate pain and other symptoms.

The Differences

Despite these similarities, there are quite a few differences between the two:

  1. Philosophy: Acupuncture is based on the philosophy of balancing the body’s energy flow, whereas dry needling is based on Western medical principles and is used to target muscle pain.
  2. Training: Acupuncturists or Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors usually undergo years of training and must be licensed to practice. On the other hand, dry needling can be performed by a variety of health professionals, including GPs, physical therapists and chiropractors, who have had specific training in this technique.
  3. Points targeted: Acupuncture targets ‘acupoints’ along the body’s meridians, while dry needling targets muscular ‘trigger points’.
  4. Treatment scope: Acupuncture is often used to treat a broader range of conditions, including digestive issues, stress, and insomnia, whereas dry needling is primarily used to treat muscular pain and stiffness.

Dry needling FAQ – What are ‘trigger points’?

A trigger point, also known as a “knot”, is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. These points are called ‘trigger’ points because they “trigger” a painful response that can be felt in another area, a phenomenon known as referred pain.

Trigger points can be found in any muscle in the body and can be caused by a variety of factors. Some common causes include muscle overuse, trauma, poor posture, stress, and certain health conditions.

When you touch a trigger point, it might feel like a small, hard knot or tight band in the muscle, and it will be tender. It might also cause a muscle twitch when pressed.

In dry needling, these trigger points are targeted with needles to help release the muscle tension and relieve the associated pain.

Acupuncture FAQ – What are acupoints and what are meridians?

In the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), “acupoints” and “meridians” are fundamental concepts.

Acupoints: These are specific points on the body that are targeted during acupuncture. They are the places where the practitioner inserts the needles. According to TCM, there are hundreds of acupoints along the body’s meridians. Each acupoint is believed to have a specific effect on the body’s qi, or life energy, when stimulated.

Meridians: Meridians, also known as “channels”, are believed to be pathways in the body along which the life energy, or qi, flows. There are 12 main meridians that correspond to major organs in the body (like the heart, liver, lungs, etc.), as well as eight “extraordinary” meridians that have unique properties. The meridians connect the various parts of our body together, making it a unified whole.

In TCM, disease is seen as an imbalance or disruption in the flow of qi along these meridians. By inserting needles into specific acupoints, an acupuncturist aims to rebalance this energy flow and restore health. It’s important to note that the concepts of acupoints and meridians are not supported by Western medicine, which is based on different anatomical and physiological principles.

Are there additional costs?

Jim, Marie and Jen are able to offer dry needling as part of their treatments and there is no additional charge for dry needling.


Both techniques can be beneficial, depending on your needs. In our chiropractic and massage clinic, we are ready to offer both acupuncture and dry needling to our clients depending on their individual needs and preferences.

Remember, everyone’s body is different and what works for one person may not work for another. We highly recommend speaking to one of our health professionals to discuss which treatment option may be best suited for you.

We hope this post has given you a better understanding of the differences and similarities between dry needling and acupuncture. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Your health and comfort are our priority!

If you are looking for dry needling as a treatment give us a call at Tuggeranong Chiropractic Centre and Tuggeranong Therapeutic Massage and experience a unique and interesting treatment. Call us on 6292 1092 or book online.

Categories: Chiropractic