There’s a big difference, the only common element between Acupuncture and Dry needling is the needle itself. Everything else is different, from the diagnosis to point selection to technique. In Acupuncture, points are often chosen in locations other than the site of pain, needling the area of pain is as borrowing from the weak. Acupuncture treatments are systemic more than they are symptomatic. For example: when someone comes with lower back pain, an Acupuncturist addresses the root cause of the lower back pain that in turn could help with the lower back. Treating the area of pain directly will only help with the symptoms and pain relief that is short-lived, and that is not what Acupuncture is about. Acupuncture Treatments balance the body and increase blood and oxygen flow to the whole body with the extra focus on the site of pain. Acupuncture treatments awaken the nervous system and help create awareness of the areas of pain in order for the brain to shine the light on the areas of imbalance. So, if you have had dry needling, then You have only had an Acupuncture technique not a full Acupuncture treatment.
It is important to understand how much training is required for each therapy. A registered acupuncturist in the province of Alberta is required to complete a minimum of 4365 hours (including 1500 clinical hours) and to be able to pass 4 board exams to be licensed.
On the other hand, a dry needler is only required to go through a weekend of training in as little as 6 hours to perform dry needling. The main focus of a dry needler is stimulating the area of pain or injury to produce temporary symptom relief that is short-lived.
Only trained Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners are qualified to offer Safe Acupuncture treatments for long-lasting reliefs, by focusing on the overall condition of the patient and the root cause of pain. Trained TCMDs will also address other issues such as sleep, digestion, stress, diet sexual, and mental health.
When stimulating a site of pain or injury regardless of the modality used, there will be a short-lived relief, such modalities as dry needling, kneading, massage.. etc.
To conclude, when you don’t have access to a trained Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner for an Acupuncture treatment, Dry needling or Kneading might help with a short-lived relief.