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Dry Needle

Dry Needle

  1. We are concerned for public safety. Dry needling is acupuncture (ARS 32-3901)

  2. Most PT's that perform dry needling have only 15 hours of training compared to the over 2000 hours that most Licensed Acupuncturist's have. Even MD's and Chiropractors are required to have several hundred hours and they are physicians.

  3. Dry needling is acupuncture. Both use the same tools, the same techniques, and the same points to accomplish the same results. The World Health Organization and the National college accrediting bodies agree. The Arizona legal definition of acupuncture includes the act of dry needling.

  4. Arizona state law is very clear on the definition of acupuncture and includes the act of dry needling. Further, state law permits only five professions to perform acupuncture/dry needling, LAc., Medical Doctors, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Naturopaths, and Homeopathic physicians, all with high levels of training.

You can link here to the CCAOM position paper that has a lot of great references:

Here is a great link to a study we reference, the conclusion of which is that 92% of dry needle points correspond to classical acupuncture points:

Acupuncture Misrepresented as Dry-Needling
Do not be fooled, "dry needling" or "intramuscular manual therapy" is acupuncture. Using a different name for the same technique does not rise to the level of creating a new technique.

According to the National Federation of Physical Therapy Boards, the term "Dry needling" was developed to redefine the technique of placing an acupuncture needle into a muscle "trigger point" with the intent of releasing muscle tension. Physical Therapists and the association that lobbies for them have systematically misrepresented a legally defined medical procedure for the purposes circumventing training required by law and so that they may seek compensation by health insurance companies.

The World Health Organization, however, recognizes that dry needling is in fact acupuncture. The national organizations American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) and the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) have also determined that dry needling is the practice of acupuncture because the practice uses the same tools, with the same techniques, in the same locations, to achieve the same results.

Even the Allopathic Medical establishment agrees that dry needling is acupuncture. A recent study by Dr. Peter T. Dorsher, MD, at the Mayo Clinic, found that an anatomic comparison of the locations of trigger points to those of classical acupuncture points showed that at least 234 (92%) of the 255 "common" trigger points described by the Trigger Point Manual correspond to anatomical locations of classical acupuncture points. Further, Dorsher noted that not only are 92% of the points the same, but myofascial referred pain patterns correspond to acupuncture meridians in 76-90% of the points.2

Legal Definition and Practice of Acupuncture
The practice of acupuncture is defined by statute and regulated by the Acupuncture Board of Examiners. The Arizona Legislature defined "acupuncture" as "puncturing the skin by thin, solid needles to reach subcutaneous structures, stimulating the needles to affect a positive therapeutic response at a distant site and the use of adjunctive therapies." ARS 32-3901.

The Arizona State Legislature and Governor have determined there is a significant enough risk to public safety from the unsafe practice of acupuncture by insufficiently trained and licensed practitioners to demand a standard of training and regulation of the practice. The legislature does specifically permit certain other licensed health care professionals that are not non-licensed acupuncturists to practice acupuncture so long as they are practicing within the scope of their license and have adequate training. ARS 32-3921. Physical therapists are not included in this list and not legally permitted to practicing acupuncture, in all its forms, including the practice of acupuncture under the adopted name of "dry needling".

Based on the methods and goals of "dry needling" and the definitions in statute, it is clear that "dry needling" is a method of acupuncture treatment. Both use the same tool (acupuncture needles), the same needling techniques, and the same bodily surface points for the same purpose (treating pain).

Arizona lawmakers recognize the practice of acupuncture (aka dry-needling or intramuscular manual therapy) is a unique, invasive procedure which clearly has therapeutic benefits but also represents a clear danger to public safety if performed without sufficient training and education. The law specifically allows for certain medical professionals to perform acupuncture if they obtain the proper training. Physical Therapists were excluded because they do not have the same level of training. Therefore those physical therapists performing or offering to perform "dry needling" are breaking the law.

1 Gunn, CC et al. Spine, 1980
2 Dorsher PT (May 2006). Trigger points and acupuncture points: anatomic and clinical correlations. Medical Acupuncture.

Turning Point Acupuncture
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