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Dry Needling versus Acupuncture

At their core, physical therapists and acupuncturists want the same thing: to heal patients of their daily maladies. Dry needling is practiced by acupuncturists and chiropractors, and now physical therapists. All are healthcare professionals trying to get the best results but the training each receives is vastly different.

Dry needling and acupuncture involve puncturing the skin with thin needles for therapeutic purposes. While a shared aim is to provide relief from pain, the practices are otherwise very different.

Dry needling is most often performed by physical and sports injury therapists. Currently, dry needling practitioners don’t need extensive training. They can take one specific dry needling course for 27 hours to dry needle. No regulatory agency controls training, licensure, or supervision for this procedure.

Because there’s no credentialing board for dry needling practitioners, there’s also no way to determine if someone’s training is legitimate and satisfactory. 

Acupuncture is a form of medical treatment that’s been used for thousands of years. Acupuncture originated in Asian medical practices. That’s why many licensure and oversight boards use the term “Oriental Medicine” to classify acupuncture.


According to the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, in order to be board certified, acupuncturists complete a four-year, full time Masters program that includes at least 3,000 hours of study, 660 clinical hours, and 350 patient visits. And they’re rigorously trained according to the body’s meridians and channels—and where to, and not to, place a hair-thin needle. In addition to this training, acupuncturists must undergo testing from a national board of examiners and continue to take instructional courses each year to maintain their license.

Please follow this link for an excellent article on "dry needling vs. acupuncture"


come see us today, be better tomorrow

What will happen on my first visit?
We start by taking a case history with you, which is a comprehensive background interview about your health issues and any information that may be relevant to your condition. During this process, the practitioner will examine also your tongue color and its appearance, check your pulse and palpate your abdomen. This examination will provide the practitioner with a better understanding on how your whole body is functioning. Following the intake you will either sit or lie down and relax while we apply acupuncture.

What do I wear for my acupuncture treatment?
Be aware that the acupuncturist may need to access points on your torso, arms and legs. Wear comfortable, loose clothing, and take off any metallic jewelry, watches, or earrings. Makeup and nail polish should be minimized or eliminated. Please also avoid the use of perfumes, colognes or strongly scented cosmetics.

What should I do before treatment?
Try to avoid the following:

  • Eating a big meal within one hour of your appointment or an empty stomach

  • Alcohol, tobacco, food or drinks that color your tongue (such as coffee or candies) immediately prior to treatment or just following a treatment

  • Vigorous exercise or sexual activity within the hour before treatment


It also helps to be in a calm state. Try to arrive 5 or 10 minutes before your appointment to give yourself a chance to relax.

What should I do after treatment?
It is often helpful to sit quietly and relax following sessions. A gentle walk or very mild exercise can also be helpful. Avoid big meals, vigorous exercise, alcohol and stressful situations.   

What to expect after treatment?
Patients normally feel relaxed and calm. You may feel tired or drowsy for a few hours if the experience is particularly strong. You may also experience a short-term flair-up of symptoms in the healing process.

Will insurance cover my treatment?
While some insurance carriers recognize acupuncture, others still not. We encourage patients to check their individual policy. If applicable, we will provide you with the appropriate forms to submit to your insurance carrier for reimbursement. We are in process of being credentialed. 


How long does a treatment take?
Diagnostic procedure and treatment normally last for one hour.

How many treatments do I need?
Duration of treatment depends on the nature of the complaint, its severity, and how long it has been present. Response varies. Some patient's require only a few sessions while others need sustained care to reverse chronic conditions that have been established over time. 

Acupuncture treatments produce a cumulative effect with time.  As symptoms improve, fewer visits are required.  This process is continued until maximum correction has been achieved.

The goal is to receive acupuncture treatments to tune up and maintain optimum health rather than “fixing” problems.

Is acupuncture painful?
Acupuncture treatment consists of insertion of fine needles and so is not usually found to be painful. There is little sensitivity to the insertion of acupuncture needles. One reason is that they are much finer than those used for injections and blood tests - 25 to 50 times thinner than hypodermic needles - so thin that several acupuncture needles can fit into the middle of a hypodermic needle.

The actual insertion is done very quickly. While some feel nothing at all, others experience a brief moment of discomfort, sometimes followed by a mild sensation of cramping, tingling, heaviness, numbness or electric sensation either around the needle or traveling up or down the affected meridian. This sensation is desirable and known as "attaining Qi". These sensations are usually mild and subside quickly after insertion.

Most people find acupuncture sessions very relaxing, and some even fall asleep during sessions.

Can acupuncture be dangerous?
In the hands of a skilled practitioner, Acupuncture is perfectly safe. Cautions are recommended when working around major organs and thin patients short needles are used to avoid deep penetration. During pregnancy certain points are avoided. 

Always ensure you have a Qualified Acupuncturist belonging to a Registered Acupuncturist Council.

Are the needles sterile? Are needles reused?
Licensed acupuncturists are required to be certified in Clean Needle Techniques and use sterilized, individually packaged, disposable needles. We never reuse needles!

How deep do the needles go?
Acupuncture points are located on or close to the skin's surface, but needles can be inserted from 1/16 to a few inches deep. The depth of insertion depends on the nature of the location and condition being addressed, the patients' size, age, and constitution, as well as the acupuncturist's style and training.

Where are the needles inserted?
Sometimes needles will not be inserted by the problem zone but rather on distal points. Example: You may come in with a headache but needles will be inserted on your feet or hands only! Depending on the case, the practitioner may choose to add some adjunctive therapies to achieve optimum benefits. Click here for more information on “What are some other Oriental Medicine techniques besides needle insertion?”

Who can receive acupuncture treatments?
Acupuncture and TCM is for almost everyone. The best thing is that you do not have to be sick to benefit. It is an effective form of preventive medicine because it helps detect and treat energy imbalances before they lead to disease.

It can also treat specific disorders to relieve symptoms and help reduce complications and recurrence or can be used for the maintenance treatment of a long term problem, to help reduce the need for medication and surgery.


Should I tell my doctor?
If you are receiving treatment from your doctor, then it makes sense to tell him/her about your intention to have acupuncture. At the same time, you should always inform your acupuncturist of any treatments you are receiving, such as medications, as this may affect your response to the acupuncture treatment.

My doctor does not believe in Acupuncture. Do I have to believe in order to obtain results?
No. In fact, acupuncture works very well for horses, dogs and cats, most of whom probably don't "believe" in acupuncture either. It is always beneficial to have confidence in your practitioner, but faith in a particular technique is not necessary to obtain results.

Will acupuncture interfere with my medication?
The answer is NO. You may find your medication working more efficiently as Acupuncture moves blockages and balances the energetic pathways. With your Doctor's guidance you may find you will be able to cut down dosage of medication or even completely come off it as the body heals itself and restores balance.

Should I continue with my prescribed medication while receiving acupuncture?
Yes, at least until you have thoroughly discussed your options with your doctor or the practitioner who prescribed the medication. 

Many people seek the help of an acupuncturist because of dissatisfaction with drug treatment - whether it does not seem to be working or there are unacceptable side effects. However, NEVER stop taking any medication without professional guidance.

Can acupuncture be combined with other therapies?
Yes, acupuncture can be performed alongside other holistic treatments, and at the same time as Western medical treatment. You should inform each practitioner if you are having any other treatments.


  • What will happen on my first visit?

  • What do I wear for my acupuncture treatment?

  • What should I do before treatment?

  • What should I do after treatment?

  • What to expect after treatment?

  • Will insurance cover my treatment?


  • How long does a treatment take?

  • How many treatments do I need?

  • Is acupuncture painful?

  • Can acupuncture be dangerous?

  • Are the needles sterile? Are needles reused?

  • How deep do the needles go?

  • Where are the needles inserted?

  • Who can receive acupuncture treatments?


  • Should I tell my doctor?

  • My doctor does not believe in acupuncture. Do I have to believe in order to obtain results?

  • Will acupuncture interfere with my medication?

  • Should I continue with my prescribed medication while receiving acupuncture?

  • Can acupuncture be combined with other therapies?


What is acupuncture? 

Acupuncture is one part of a whole range of treatments known as Chinese medicine, which includes herbs, massage, cupping, moxibustion, gua sha, nutrition and exercise to treat the body and spirit.

The ancient philosophy behind the treatment is that vital energy (Qi pronounced "Chee") flows through energy lines or meridians in the body.

In good health the flow of Qi is smooth and uninterrupted, but when illness strikes this flow is disturbed. Modern living can cause this energy to be disrupted in many ways, including stress, emotional upset, physical trauma, poor diet or overworking.

The body has a tremendous ability to heal itself, but sometimes due to prolonged stress or external pathogens we can get "stuck" or sick.  We may have frequent anxiety, frustration, irritability & sadness or, as the energy gets backed up illness can take hold.  Using needles to communicate with the brain & central nervous system the acupuncturist directs the body where to heal itself. As the needles are inserted into the corresponding energetic pathways (or meridians) energy is unblocked, a new equilibrium is created, endorphins are released and the nervous system encourages healing.

Each person is different and the Chinese medicine approach is to treat the patient as an individual and this is at the core of acupuncture, with the treatment very much tailored to the patients needs to allow the body to rebalance itself.

At Clover Acupuncture & Wellness, we believe in using gentle methods to encourage optimal relaxation during treatment.

Will I have a treatment during my first consultation? 

Yes. Our main concern is on reducing your pain or discomfort as soon as possible. We will however take a detailed case history during your consultation.

How long does a treatment take? 

Treatments last approx. 45 – 60 minutes but allow up to 1 – 1.5 hour(s) for your first visit.

How many treatments will I need? 

Acupuncture works as a “process”, not a “procedure”. It works over a series of treatments.  You can never have acupuncture treatments too close together, but you can have them too far apart.  It works cumulatively, each treatment building on the previous, and we want to continue building on your progress.

If we treat you today but your symptoms return before your next appointment, then we went too far between appointments. Of course we want symptoms to constantly improve. In order to accomplish this, visits should generally be twice a week for the first 1-2 weeks although every client is different and adjustments can be made.

After that as long as your symptoms are improving and staying at that level of improvement between appointments, then we’ll back off.

Once your symptoms are basically gone, then we’ll go into Maintenance Mode where I’ll see you once per month or longer for a “tune up” treatment.

Chinese medicine does not simply mask a particular problem, it addresses the ROOT CAUSE. If worked properly, the end result is a full recovery of symptoms.

Can I have my appointment after work? 

Yes. Our clinic has late evening appointments available, so you can have an appointment from 9:00am – 6:30pm (Last appointment, when available).

What is the difference between Acupuncture & “Dry-Needling”? 

Both techniques use Acupuncture needles now. However “Dry Needling” originally used hypodermic needles with no solution inside hence the “Dry” part of the name.

Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine using channels in the body and acupuncture points. However, in acupuncture “Ashi” points (a point anywhere on the body which is tender/sore, similar to trigger points) are also acupuncture points. Therefore an acupuncturist is not limited to just the points on the channels. Whereas, dry needling uses muscle trigger points which are similar to the “Ashi” points in acupuncture.

Furthermore, acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine which focuses on an entire medical philosophy and can treat the whole person – mind,body,and spirit. Therefore it treats musculo-skeletal problems, fertility, stress, anxiety, digestive disorders, addictions and so on, very often during the same treatment. “Dry Needling” treats musculo-skeletal problems only.

Finally, an acupuncturist will spend at least 3 years training while a course in “Dry Needling” is usually completed over a period of 2 weekends training.