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Dry Needling Vs. Acupuncture

Dr. Nichole Nygren

Jul 16, 2023

Let's clear up the confusion

Since our June newsletter, many have been interested in learning more about dry needling, which we think is great! However, there seems to be some confusion understanding the differences, so here’s some information that I put together in hopes it will make more sense.


  • Dry needling is a relatively new therapy that was developed in the 1980s.

  • Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine therapy that has been used for centuries.


  • Dry needling is based on the idea that trigger points, or knots in muscles, can cause pain and other symptoms.

  • Acupuncture is based on the idea of chi, or vital energy, and the belief that blockages in the chi flowing through the meridians can cause pain and other symptoms.


  • Acupuncture and dry needling use the same needles, they are both “dry,” as there is nothing “wet” being injected into you.

  • Dry needling uses needles to insert into trigger points of tight and sore muscles. They need to be thicker and longer to reach deeper layers of muscle—even bone.

  • Acupuncture uses the exact same “dry” needles, but tend to use the shorter, thinner needles. They are inserted into a variety of points on the body, typically along meridian channels.

  • Dry needling practitioners can leave the needles in for a shorter period of time, as it does not take too long for a muscle to relax. Acupuncturists tend to leave the needles in longer.

Treatment goals:

  • Dry needling is typically used to only treat pain and other symptoms related to muscle tension.

  • Acupuncture can be used to treat a wider range of conditions, including pain, anxiety, depression, and infertility.


  • Chiropractors certified to practice acupuncture in the state of Ohio have taken 300 hours of training and passed a national and state board.

  • Chiropractors in the state of Ohio who dry needle without their acupuncture certificate have taken a 15-25 training hours. Physical therapist who dry needle in the state of Ohio have 54 training hours.

Ultimately, the best way to decide which therapy is right for you is to talk to me, since I do both dry needling and acupuncture. I am certified in acupuncture with 300 hours and have had 40+ hours in dry needling training.

You may even be pleasantly surprised to know that I've actually been doing both during your treatment all along!

In health,

Dr. Nichole

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