Acupuncture versus Dry Needling

Acupuncturist Chapel Hill, NC

Occasionally patients report they have received something called ‘Dry Needling’ from another practitioner and ask if we perform Dry Needling Technique at our acupuncture office. Dr. Lisa Oskardmay is a licensed acupuncturist with additional training specifically in DNT. Additionally, most acupuncturists can perform DNT, which involves deep needle insertion into muscle spasm areas to relieve trigger points and other muscle spasm issues as it is part of our scope of practice and general training. Nonetheless, although trained in the method, not all acupuncturists choose to use acupuncture in that manner and focus on other ways to mobilize qi and body energy. At Acupractic, DNT is available, and we offer meridian balancing acupuncture, as well. Read more about acupuncture versus dry needling.

There are some similarities between acupuncture and DNT, but profound differences, as well. Practitioner training and philosophic differences impact safety and outcome. Patients need to know the difference between the practices of acupuncture DNT to make good healthcare decisions.

Differences between Acupuncture and Dry Needling

Acupuncture is an ancient healing art form focused on qi flow and meridian balance. Qi is the body’s energy- blood, lymph, water, nerve, muscle, cognition; these all represent qi aspects. Meridians are the pathways on and in the body along which qi flows and correspond to each person’s fundamental elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Rather than some nebulous idea created by Chinese medicine practitioners, elements are natural occurrences that help us make sense of disease and qi flow stagnation in the body. Acupuncturists balance qi flow using acupuncture needles and other massage techniques such as cupping and gua sha along meridians. Depending on who uses DNT, they may thoughtfully strive to impact qi flow in a balanced manner, or they may just inserting a needle into a trigger point and thrusting it many times. Dr. Oskardmay aims to the former when she uses DNT to support the best healing response on many levels.

Another critical difference between DNT and acupuncture is the conditions surrounding the treatment itself. At Acupractic Natural Healing Center, Dr. Oskardmay provides a relaxed, healing atmosphere for each patient. Following needle insertion, patients rest on the table to relax the mind and allow treatment to engage fully. This differs from the highly medicalized DNT offered in some clinics that are not designed to be relaxing. Under the clinic atmosphere and the aggressive needle insertion into muscle tissue, it may increase cortisol stimulation and interfere with relaxation and healing.

Both acupuncture and DNT use sterile acupuncture needles. A licensed acupuncturist such as Dr. Oskardmay will choose the thinnest, highest gauge needle to achieve treatment results and insert the device to the depth required to balance qi flow. She may mobilize the needle gently or even somewhat vigorously at times to achieve treatment goals, constantly aware of patient comfort. The non-acupuncturist performing DNT chooses a larger diameter needle to break up muscle fibers and re-insert the needle repeatedly into the same and surrounding areas during one treatment leaving some patients to report pain and tenderness at the site of needle insertion that can last for several days.

There is no consensus on who can perform DNT; some states allow physical therapists, nurses, athletic trainers, physicians, and others to apply DNT. There is no required coursework or licensure requirement for practitioners who want to add this novel, popular technique to their treatment plans. Needles’ insertion depth ranges from 25 to 125 mm deep, and the risk of damage to nerves, muscles, and internal organs is genuine.

Whether your goal is relief from musculoskeletal aches and pains, stress relief, or other health concerns, call the acupuncture and chiropractic offices of Dr. Lisa Oskardmay at (919) 929-1400, email us at or schedule online at anytime. We are here for you, and our goal is to help you achieve balanced healing, naturally and safely.

Serving the communities of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham, Hillsborough, and the rest of the NC Triangle

205 Providence Rd. Chapel Hill NC 27514 | Phone: (919) 929-1400

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