Medical acupuncture, or dry needling, is a modern adaptation of the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture. It is defined as a therapeutic technique that involves the insertion of fine needles into certain points across the body to encourage healing and pain relief.
The main difference between medical acupuncture and traditional Chinese acupuncture is that the ancient beliefs of ‘yin’, ‘yang’, and the energy ‘qi’ is substituted for a combined knowledge of physiology and pathology, anatomy, and the common principals of evidence based medicine.
Medical acupuncture is practiced by healthcare practitioners and is generally regarded as part of conventional medicine. The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones, which influence the bodies own internal regulating system.
The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.
People experience acupuncture needling differently. Most patients feel only minimal pain as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain felt. Acupuncture needles are very thin and solid and are made from stainless steel. The point is smooth (not hollow with cutting edges like a hypodermic needle) and insertion through the skin is not as painful as injections or blood sampling. The risk of bruising and skin irritation is less than when using a hollow needle.