A Physical Therapist who practices Dry Needling typically receives 35-50 hours of training. Dry Needling is based on stimulating trigger points in order to cause a muscle to release.
Acupuncture includes many different needling techniques and is used to treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal as well as internal and even emotional conditions. An Acupuncturist receives in excess of 1500 hours of training in acupuncture, of which 660 must be clinical hours, that is, practicing acupuncture under the supervision of Licensed Acupuncturists. Acupuncturists also receive instruction in the Chinese Meridian system and the diagnostic techniques of Chinese Medicine. A typical Acupuncture session will include factoring in your personal medical conditions, treating the whole body in order to address a particular complaint.
In addition, NCCAOM-certified Acupuncturists are required to be certified in Clean Needle Technique (proper procedures to avoid contamination) and must complete Continuing Education Units in order to maintain their certification.
The American Medical Association adopted a policy in 2016, saying this concerning dry needling:
“Lax regulation and nonexistent standards surround this invasive practice. For patients’ safety, practitioners should meet standards required for licensed acupuncturists and physicians.”
The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (an association of Medical Doctors who practice acupuncture) concurred in December, 2014:
“The AAMA recognizes dry needling as an invasive procedure using acupuncture needles that has associated medical risks. Therefore, the AAMA maintains that this procedure should be performed only by practitioners with extensive training and familiarity with the routine use of needles in their practice and who are duly licensed to perform these procedures, such as licensed medical physicians or licensed acupuncturists.”