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.