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Dry Needling Acupuncture

Dry needling is also known as modern medical acupuncture, Western medical acupuncture, or intramuscular stimulation.
Historically medical acupuncture developed from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), but has developed separately in the 1960's, and treats areas instead of points. Unlike TCM, it is not a complete system of treatment, but frequently relieves symptoms, particularly pain. Needling in medical acupuncture uses the same sterile disposable needles as in TCM acupuncture, and needles are generally although not always inserted into the area of pain. This can be done subcutaneously, intramuscularly or periosteally.

Medical acupuncture is usually carried out using brief placement of the needle into the muscle or under the skin, and withdrawing relatively quickly. Periostial treatment involves directly stimulating the bony periosteum repeatedly with the needle over a very short period of seconds. Several treatments may have a cumulative effect. 

There is evidence to suggest that the midbrain periaqueductal grey matter plays an important role in pain transmission and perception, as does projection from the prefrontal cortex through the thalamus. The phenomenon of diffuse noxious inhibitory control (DNIC) appears to be due to A-delta-generated information transmitted to the subnucleus reticularis dorsalis in the caudal medulla, which projects downward through the dorsolateral funiculus to the dorsal horn of the spinal cord at all levels; it can be activated by needle stimulation at various areas, which do not have to be traditional acupuncture points.

Patients react differently to acupuncture. Side-effects, or aggravations, can result in temporary worsening of the symptoms, but are usually brief. 

  • Campell A. All you need to know about Acupuncture. Pub. A Campbell, 2013.
Image © Gerardo Calia