Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association
Like acupuncture, dry needling involves the insertion of acupuncture needles into specific points on the body to improve health. Unlike acupuncture, the practice of dry needling is unregulated in Australia. This paper challenges the notion that dry needling is not a part of acupuncture practice and also examines the risks associated with the practice of dry needling from a public health perspective. The practice of acupuncture and dry needling are first examined and compared to identify commonalities. A review into the incidence of risks of dry needling reveals very limited literature with only one case report and no review articles identified. Based on the similarities between acupuncture and dry needling, the extensive literature on the serious risks of acupuncture is extrapolated to evaluate the risks of dry needling. Dry needling is not a new or separate practice to acupuncture; rather it is a subsystem of musculoskeletal acupuncture which has been practised continuously for at least 1400 years. Dry needling is a pseudonym for a brief course of study in myofascial acupuncture also known as ashi acupuncture and trigger point acupuncture. Dry needling is likely to result in an increased incidence of serious risks, particularly pneumothorax, due to the short training courses and deep needling techniques which typify the practice. In the interest of public health and safety, the practice of dry needling should be restricted to suitably qualified practitioners.