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American Association for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Releases it's Position on "Dry Needling"

Over the past several years, several non-acupuncture professionals, including Physical Therapists (PT) have started performing the insertion of needles under the name of “dry needling”, or “trigger point dry needling” (TDN).  While it is basically performing a technique of acupuncture known as “ashi point” needling (or, needling a local point of sensitivity) it has been renamed and classified as not practicing acupuncture, and thus opening the flood gates for pretty much any medical person to practice acupuncture.

While many people do experience local pain relief from this technique, there are major issues within the professional field of acupuncture with this unrestrained use of needling by highly under-trained people.

Our professional association, the AAAOM, has released its position paper on dry needling, with excerpts included below:

“The AAAOM has the following…concerns: 1) No standards of education have been validly determined to ensure that Physical Therapists (PT) using TDN are providing the public with a safe and effective product, 2) There is a clear effort to redefine identical medical procedures and circumvent or obscure established rules and regulations regarding practice, and 3) In many states, addition of TDN to PT practice is a scope expansion that should require legislative process, not a determination by a PT board.

The US Dept. of Education recognized ACAOM as the sole accrediting agency for acupuncture training institutions as well as their Master’s and Doctoral Degree programs. Training in acupuncture, which has been rigorously refined over the course of hundreds of years internationally and over forty years domestically, is well established and defined to support safe and effective practice.  Attempts to circumvent acupuncture training standards, licensing or regulatory laws by administratively retitling acupuncture as “dry needling” or any other name is confusing to the public, misleading, and creates a significant endangerment to public welfare.

The actual risk has been investigated by at least one malpractice insurance company that has stated it will cancel policies for PTs “engaging in a medical procedure for which they have no adequate education or training”.  Recent actions by state medical regulatory authorities have identified and acted upon the aforementioned risk.

In conclusion, the AAAOM strongly urges legislators, regulators, advisory boards, advocates of public safety, and medical professional associations to carefully consider the impact of these actions.”

This is sure to be a continuing battle over the next many years, but for now, please, if someone other than a licensed acupuncturist wants to insert needles in you, kindly turn them down and seek out a fully trained acupuncturist in your area for help!