Are Dry Needling and Acupuncture the Same? - PRO Therapy
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Are Dry Needling and Acupuncture the Same?

Closeup of shirtless man receiving dry needling therapy from doctor in clinicOne common question we get from patients who have done some online research is: are dry needling and acupuncture the same? 

It’s an understandable confusion – after all, both treatments involve needles placed all over the body, and sometimes the same types of needles are used in both treatments. 

Let’s get the big question right out of the way: Are dry needling and acupuncture the same? No – even though both involve needles, they use different techniques, have different benefits, and are used to treat different conditions. 

So if they’re not the same, what are the differences between them? 

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is traditional Chinese medical treatment that’s based all around the flow of “chi” in your body – the energy flow that connects certain acupuncture points on the body to heal or correct the body. Acupuncture is done by acupuncturists, who have completed training for this technique, not typically by physical therapists. 

The placement of the needles used in acupuncture depends on the health needs of the patient – and in some cases it might include multiple parts of the body. While it can be used to aid in specific conditions, acupuncture is often used as more of a wholistic wellness treatment.  

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a technique used by physical therapists as a part of a larger treatment plan. This is often done specifically in response to an injury a patient has experienced. Dry needling is used only in your muscles to ultimately reduce pain. 

The goal of dry needling is to stimulate the muscle. The effects boil down to three main improvements: increasing natural opioids to that area, improving inflammation, and causing vasodilation. 

When you receive a dry needling treatment, needles will only be in the affected area. Everything is centered around healing the body and eliminating muscular pain. 

Dry needling is called “dry needling” because it doesn’t involve injecting anything into the body. Instead, the needles themselves are used to trigger your muscles into a response. 

Some of the most common conditions that benefit the most from dry needling are: headaches, TMJ (jaw issues), neck pain, shoulder impingement, tennis or golf elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, sciatica, hip impingement, knee  arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and many others. 

➡ Read Now: Everything You Need To Know About Dry Needling

Dry Needling at PRO Therapy

Dry needling is just one of the many treatment options we offer on your path to healing. For some, it’s not necessary. For others, it can provide tremendously positive results. It all depends on your body its specific needs. That’s why we can’t say dry needling is perfect for everyone – because we don’t know until we meet with you!  

Are you currently dealing with an ache or pain and need help? Give us a call! We offer complimentary phone and in-person consultations. We aim to meet our patients wherever they are in their journey and answer all questions we can to ensure a smooth experience at PRO Therapy.  

We want to help you make the best decision for you – whether that includes dry needling, or another treatment option. 


PRO Therapy is an Independently Owned Orthopedic Physical Therapy Clinic. At PRO Therapy, we treat back, knee, neck/shoulder, ankle/foot, and hip pain as well as sports injuries, surgery rehabilitation, and anything else that’s causing you pain. We want everyone to have exceptional care, better access to care and be able to complete the activities in life that make them happy – free from a life of painkillers, injections, or surgeries. 

Liz Spahr

Liz Spahr

Liz Spahr, originally from Stillwater, MN resides in Coon Rapids with her husband, Dr. Spahr! They have one daughter (Millie) and two dogs (Mia and Ellie). Along with being Co-Owner of PRO Therapy, Liz utilizes her extensive Marketing background connecting with PRO’s patients via our website, email communications and social media platforms.
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