If you are new to my site, I suggest you first read my article on Dry Needling.
Here’s what I believe is the problem that acupuncturists have with Physical therapists (PTs) practicing Dry Needle (DN). Acupuncturists in general do not complain about MDs, DOs, or even Chiros practicing acupuncture.. But we have a fit when a PTs does it. Why?
I’m of the firm believe, that most acupuncturist think that we are higher in the medical food chain than PTs. That PTs are nothing more than glorified massage therapists, or an over educated personal trainer. (BTW, I have the highest respect for massage therapist. They work twice as much as I do, and personal trainers have the potential to change lives), and that they have no business inserting a needle into anyone. Another reason, is that many acupuncturists are employed by Chiros. It would be professional suicide to bite the hand that feeds you. However, I don’t know of any Physical therapist employing acupuncturists. If there are, they are few and far in between.
The majority of those in my profession, claim the safety of the public is the main reason for opposing PTs from practicing DN. Yet, we turn a blind eye when other allied professions insert needles in their patients (read chiros, MDs, and so on). The claim is, that we have over 4000 hours of training is what differentiates us, and thus qualify us to insert a needle. By contrast PTs, MDs and Chiros undergo training that is usually a weekend or two in length and in some States Chiros and MDs can practice acupuncture and advertise their services with less than 30 hours of training). (except Myopain Seminars’ program consisting of three full weekends, Friday until Sunday, including a practical and theoretical examination)
The problem with the above argument, is that in reality, it does not take hundreds of hours to learn how to simply tap an acupuncture needle into the skin.. It can be taught within less than an hour.. ( I taught my wife to do it in a few minutes for those times when my back hurts). I also taught nurses how to use the NADA protocol in a half day workshop at Net Counseling Services in Wilmington, DE. It is NOT rocket science..
What takes time, is learning all the indications for the points. Their locations and needle depth. None of this is applicable to Dry needling. And, as most acupuncturist by now know, or should know, all those indications and point functions are based on an herbal approach to acupuncture and nothing to do with the classical approach as practiced in Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Taiwan and other pre-Mao educated practitioners. In reality, a total waste of time.. It would be better for the students if more time was dedicated to the Western sciences.. But that’s another topic.
There are PTs who are stepping out of bounds with DN. These PTs need to be called out and reported. They are indeed practicing acupuncture – electroacupuncture and hiding behind a DN cloth. But these are few and far in between.
Going back to the safety card played by acupuncturists regarding PTs practicing DN, the fact is that those of allied professions are probably practicing a much safer style of needling than most acupuncturists. The reason being that their knowledge of anatomy far surpasses that of most acupuncturists. This is what is really important for the public to understand. You must know your anatomy..
The level of anatomy knowledge needed to practice acupuncture as taught in the West is very elementary. Why? Because most acupuncturists are needling very shallow into the skin. There’s very little danger hurting a patient with shallow insertion unless you actually needle into a visible vein, or the eyes. Otherwise there’s hardly any danger at all. No need for hundreds of hours in training..
By contrast, DN and other styles of orthopaedic acupuncture, more often than not, does require deep needling, thus palpation skills and deep knowledge of anatomy is necessary to identify areas of concern. Most PTs, Chiros, MDs, DOs actually work on cadavers during their training. While most acupuncture schools are at best using a rat or some other rodent.. You tell me which is better qualified to insert a needle into your body..?
There’s much more I could say on this topic. As one who has completed DN training and certification with Myopain Seminars, practiced acupuncture for over 22 year, includes Master Tung and Dr. Tan into his treatment protocols, and practices acupoint injection therapy, I feel more than qualified to speak on this subject, in contrast to many of my colleagues, who, with blindfolds, speak with pseudo-authority on a subject they know next to nothing.
By the way, you may find of interest the latest development in the practice of DN in Maryland. I suspect that other states will follow their regulations..