Acupuncture needles are much smaller than a hypodermic syringe needle. Patients new to acupuncture are often a little relieved on seeing them. When a needle is inserted you may not actually feel it at all, but if you do feel it, the sensation is kind of weird. For a few seconds after insertion on some points you may feel a tingling, a warm sensation, or even a dull ache – usually this sensation passes within seconds, and the rest of the session is relaxing for most people. Sometimes patients become so relaxed that they fall asleep while the needles are in. Hard to believe if you have not experienced acupuncture, but it happens frequently in our clinic and many others!
Dry needling uses the same stainless steel needles that a Registered Acupuncturist uses. The difference between dry needling and acupuncture is in the length of training the practitioner has received, and the application of the needles.
A dry needling practitioner is usually a massage therapist, physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath, myotherapist, medical practitioner, a podiatrist, or hand therapist who has gone on to do a course in dry needling. They will use the needle to stimulate neural, fascial and muscle changes to relieve localised pain. A Registered Acupuncturist uses local needles in the same way, but also needles in different locations over the entire body, and will generally use them to treat a much broader range of conditions and to address the underlying factors, in addition to the local points.
A practitioner of dry needling may have only trained for 16 hours, or done an online course in Australia with their training focussed on localised pain issues, whereas a Registered Acupuncturist will have trained for in excess of 500 hours in needling and locating points prior to graduating and becoming registered with AHPRA. In Australia all Registered Acupuncturists must be registered by law with AHPRA and an adjunct body (in our case AACMA).
It is not compulsory for a ‘dry needler’ to have done any training legally, or to be registered with any regulatory body in Australia. If you wish to try dry needling be sure to ask your practitioner their level of training. Alternatively, be assured that your Registered Acupuncturist has the above mentioned number of hours under their belt by law in Australia before even graduating.
Traditional Chinese Medicine style acupuncture has existed for more than 2,000 years, and throughout this time acupuncture has been used to treat a broad range of conditions.
TCM style acupuncturists work on the theory that the body’s energy flows along pathways called meridians or channels. By inserting a needle into a specific point along these pathways it is possible to influence the flow of energy and circulation along the entire meridian. There are twelve main energy meridians that flow around the body, and these are all associated with a different internal organ.
Imagine a stream that has become blocked by rocks, causing the flow of water to become disrupted. If you take a stick and move the rocks you restore the smooth flow of water. This is similar to the way in which TCM style acupuncture works.
A TCM acupuncturist will use acupuncture needles in different ways depending on the patient. They may increase energy in a channel, move a blockage, or calm excess energy depending on the disharmony.
If you are unsure whether acupuncture would be appropriate for your issue, please give us a call to discuss.
No problem if you are needlephobic. As TCM practitioners we have plenty of other tools in our box. Amanda can work with acupressure, massage, herbal medicine, or other techniques without using needles. Feel free to discuss your alternatives.