What’s the ‘point’ of difference? – Dry Needling vs Acupuncture

Here at Sports and Spinal our therapists have completed extra training in the area of Dry Needling to improve the range and quality of health care we provide, many people don’t understand the difference between dry needling and traditional acupuncture and often use the term interchangeably. They are both techniques that involve the use of thin needles, but they are distinct practices with different philosophies. Keep on reading if you’d like to learn the differences between the two and how we use dry needling every day across all our clinics.

Dry Needling:


  • Dry needling is a modern technique used in Western medical fields used by a variety of allied health professions and doctors. It is primarily focused on the treatment of musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction.


  • Dry needling is based on Western anatomy and neurophysiology. It targets trigger points (commonly referred to as tight ‘knots’ in the muscle), which are palpable tight bands of muscle tissue that can cause pain and dysfunction. The goal is to release muscle tension and promote pain relief and improved function.

Needle Insertion:

  • In dry needling, thin, solid needles (similar to acupuncture needles) are inserted directly into specific trigger points or tight bands of muscle tissue, and will be there for only a short period of time to trigger an automatic response from our body, promoting blood flow, whilst theoretically altering pain signals from the muscle to the brain and the trigger point ‘lets go’ and begins to relax.

Treatment Focus:

  • The primary aim of dry needling is to address muscle tension, pain, and dysfunction. It is often used in conjunction with other physical therapy techniques to optimize musculoskeletal health.

Dry Needling



  • Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice that has been used for thousands of years. It is based on the concept of balancing the flow of energy, or “qi,” (pronounced ‘Chee’) within the body’s meridian pathways.


  • Acupuncture is rooted in the principles of TCM, which views health and illness as a balance of the body’s vital energy. It involves stimulating specific points along the body’s meridians (electrical/energy pathways) to restore the flow of qi and bring about healing.

Needle Insertion:

  • Acupuncture needles are inserted at various points along the body’s meridians, which are believed to correspond to specific organs and systems. As opposed to dry needling acupuncture needles are typically left in the body for extended periods of time (30-60 minutes) as you relax and let the needles do their work.

Treatment Focus:

  • Acupuncture addresses a wide range of health conditions, including not only musculoskeletal issues, but also internal organ imbalances, emotional disturbances, and various other health concerns. It has also been used to aid in fertility and chronic digestive problems.

Scope of Practice:

  • Acupuncture is performed by licensed acupuncturists who have completed extensive training in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture techniques. They are trained to consider the body holistically, taking into account various aspects of a person’s health and well-being.


In summary, while both dry needling and acupuncture involve the use of needles, they have different philosophies, it’s important to seek each treatment from qualified and licensed practitioners. If dry needling is something you would like to try you can contact the clinic on 60211975 to make an appointment or book online by clicking here

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