30 December 2020

Do we know the differences between acupuncture and dry needling?

Today we are going to talk about 2 of the most important techiniques, in the field of invasive physiotherapy. Below its most outstanding features.


Originally from traditional Chinese medicine, consists of stimulating acupoints with needles, linking them to painful zones of patient, where mechanical stimuli will be provoked to generate responses in target tissues.

Characteristics of meridians

There are 361 acupoints in described meridians (14 meridians), marked superficial lines that have neuro-miofascial correspondence.

Point types

  • Meridian points: Described in the meridians.
  • Outside meridian points: Points that are not within the meridians but are related to them have a fixed localization and function.
  • Ashi points: Points with spontaneous pain or compression pain

General operation of a session

In normal sessions between 10 -12 needles are inserted. The insertion technique will consist of a rotation an insertion until the tissues allow it.

Mechanism of action

Activation of peripheral nerve afferent fibers that block nociceptive fibers, generation of endogenous opioid peptides, changes in neurotransmitters involved in pain, increased blood flow and tissue damage accelerates the remodeling and healing process.

Dry needling

Invasive physiotherapy technique, which consists of the application of needles inside the body, without injecting any substance only with mechanical stimuli. It will be inserted into points called myofascial trigger points (MTrP), mainly to treat myofascial pain syndrome (MPS).


Myofascial trigger point

MTrP: Hiperirritable point within a tight band of skeletal muscle. Painful on compression and may produce referred pain.

General operation of a session

To this treatment it is important to diagnose the MTrP that causes the usual pain, in order to later be able insert the needle precisely into the point or into overlying tissues, depending on the technique used.

Classification according to the insertion depth of the tool:

  • Superficial dry needling (SDN): Needle does not reach the MTrP.
  • Deep dry needling (DDN): Needle reaches the MTrP.

Mechanism of action

  • SDN: Hyperstimulation analgesia, stimulation of nerve fibers to block nociceptors impulses to higher centers and generation of endogenous opioid peptides.
  • DDN: All the effects of SDN, washing of sensitizing substance, mechanical laceration of myocytes and neuromuscular junction to later regenerate, local stretching of the contractured cytoskeletal structure (myocytes close to puncture zone), effects on blood flow and anti-inflammatory mechanism.


Categories: Blog

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