What’s the difference between Acupuncture and Dry Needling?

IMG_3814What’s the difference between acupuncture and dry needling? Well – it’s all in the technique and philosophy behind it. Dry needling is relatively new in comparison to the age old acupuncture and there are even different types of dry needling.

At Inspired Physio we use the Andrew Hutton Integrated Dry Needling technique which is quite gentle – if you’ve ever pricked yourself with a safety pin…it feels less then that! It works by releasing the superficial (close to the surface) fascia / connective tissue to release muscle tightness. If you imagine your muscles are meat wrapped in Glad Wrap (i.e. fascia or connective tissue), the needles are placed quite shallowly – these needles are bending the Glad Wrap rather then piercing it. Once removed, the Glad Wrap stays bendy and stretched effectively releasing the tension on the ‘meat’.

There is also trigger point dry needling which can be a bit more uncomfortable. This involves finding a ‘trigger point’ in the muscle and placing an acupuncture style needle into that spot and moving it around to elicit a twitch response. Trigger point dry needling is based on the theory that muscles develop trigger points that lead to neuromuscular dysfunction placing stress on surrounding structures and causing pain.

Acupuncture is quite old in its origin. It uses Traditional Chinese Medicine Meridian lines for placement of the needles depending on what ailment you may be suffering at the present time. Some very pregnant mummies even use acupuncture to bring on labour!

At Inspired Physio we do DRY NEEDLING which is an effective way and a gentler technique to release muscle tension over a greater amount of tissue without causing you more pain in the process.


Deborah Chen, Physiotherapist