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Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture

Almost everyday a patient will ask what is dry needling. So today I decided to answer the question and discuss a patient's case history dealing with dry needling.

Some basic questions:

1) Why is it called "dry needling" because as oppose to most medical procedures that are injecting liquids via a needle, dry needling injects no liquids, hence the name dry.

2) When is dry needling useful ? Dry needling is a rather new approach to treating muscles that have trigger points ( deep knots in the muscle) as well as inflammation that have not responded to other modalities.

3) What is Acupuncture? It is a 5000 year old healing approach to treat the whole body when the body's natural energy becomes imbalance. Treating the body's energy using points along the channels to re-establish balance.

Why Consider Dry Needling

Dry needling is a new approach to treating inflammation, or muscles that due to over use have trigger points (knots in the muscle that are tender to touch) that has not responded to more conservative approach.

Case History

A male patient with a complaint of chronic shoulder pain, who was diagnosed with shoulder impingement as a result of arthritic changes to his shoulder. This impingement has caused the rotator cuff to become inflamed as it passed under the acromioclavicular joint. Palpation of his shoulder revealed trigger points in the Subscapular Muscle. This muscle is part of the group of muscles that make up the rotator cuff.


Before the treatment the area was tender and when I palpated deeply I found trigger points in the muscle.

I inserted needles at the location of the trigger points and afterwards used the Traditional Chinese method of Gua Sha to increase circulation to the muscles.

In the above picture, you can see 3 red areas that over lie the patient's shoulder region. It was a painless procedure that immediately improved the pain free range of motion to his shoulder.

This patient care will continue to include acupuncture and herbal supplements to help him attain a more healthy lifestyle but when needed I offer other therapies to my patients.

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