3 Reasons why you should declare yourself as a dry needler and not an acupuncturist


  1. The patient

Informing the patient is the responsible thing to do and actually enhances the treatment effectiveness.


It is the clinician’s ethical responsibility to, in at least a reasonable amount of detail, explain the planned intervention; In particular the rationale for using the intervention and its expected side effects.


All physical interventions carry a non-specific treatment effect. In the past this was termed placebo. Positive patient expectations contribute to positive non-specific treatment effects. It makes sense to use this mechanism to the benefit of the patient by explaining and preparing them for what is to come.


  1. The intervention

The differences between dry needling and acupuncture are so clear, that at least form a technique perspective, the two are significantly different. In particular, the dry needler typically uses only 1 needle at a time and will insert it multiple times (termed pecking or fanning) in the trigger point zone in order to elicit and ultimately abolish twitch responses. There is no leaving of the needle in situ and no periodic twirling.


  1. The effect

By repeatedly inserting a sharp, thin needle into skeletal muscle fibers with lowered resting membrane potentials, the muscle fibers are made to contract (twitch response), but because the flow of calcium is interrupted (by making small holes in the sarcolemma), the muscle fibers cannot sustain these contractions and start to relax. It highly likely that this effect is sometimes occurs during traditional acupuncture treatments, but it is accidental and will not occur to the same extent as in a dry needling intervention.