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Fighting to keep dry needling in Colorado

close up of dry needling on patient

You may have heard recently about that fact that the Acupuncture Association of Colorado is suing the Physical Therapy State Board in order to revoke our right to dry needling our patients. They are suing based on a claim that Physical Therapists are not properly trained to perform acupuncture and are therefore endangering patients by doing so.

The first problem with their claim is that Physical Therapists are NOT performing acupuncture.  Dry Needling and Acupuncture are two completely different techniques, in fact the only similarity is the tool being used. Acupuncture is a practice rooted in Chinese medicine that involves inserting needling into the skin with the intent of relieving pain, altering energy flow, and curing ailments of several systems in the human body, such as reproductive dysfunction, allergies, heart issues, and compromised immunity. Dry Needling is a practice rooted in western medicine in which needles are inserted into trigger points in muscles to change the physiological state of the muscle. The introduction of the needle creates a biochemical response in the muscle that changes it’s state and thus reduces pain. Physical Therapists are treating musculoskeletal dysfunction and make no claims to affect changes in other system of the body.

The second glaring flaw in their argument is that Physical Therapists are not properly trained to perform Dry Needling and are endangering patients by doing so. The article states that Physical Therapists only receive 46 hours of training compared to the 1,906 hours of training that is required for acupuncturist certification. The problem with that logic is that most Physical Therapists practicing today have a Doctorate of Physical Therapy which requires a 4 years Bachelor’s Degree followed by 3 years at an accredited Physical Therapy program. In edition to this education it is required that a Physical Therapist treat patients for 2 years before they can begin the training to get a Dry Needling Certification. That is a total of 9 years of education, training, and patient contact before the 46 hours to which the Acupuncture Association is referencing. 

Hopefully this sheds some light on this issue and ensures that you feel confident and safe with your PT performing this very effective and safe technique to progress your rehabilitation. Ask your friendly Atlas Physical Therapist if you have any other questions in regards to dry needling and PT.

Kate Diffily PT, DPT (image)