• Gen Health Team

Dry needling vs Acupuncture: What is the difference?

Dry needling

Dry needling is a popular method used by Physiotherapists and Podiatrists to relieve tightness in muscles.

When muscles tighten up, a chemical build-up occurs causing one section of the muscle to become tight, hard and painful to touch. People often refer to these tight sections as ‘knots’ or ‘trigger points’.

Using a very thin needle the therapist will target the exact trigger point, resulting in relaxation of overactive muscles. When trigger points are stimulated by the point of a needle the chemical balance is restored in the muscle, allowing it to relax and function normally again.

Physiotherapists using dry needling as a treatment technique, will assess which muscles are tight and contributing to your problem. They will then needle these areas to decrease your pain and discomfort, and allow for normal movement to occur.


Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years as a traditional Chinese medicine technique.

Acupuncture in Chinese medicine aims to relieve pain and dysfunction by realigning the Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) or ‘life energy’ of the body.

It is believed that if the Qi is blocked within one of the body’s twelve meridians (a network of unseen channels within the body), then injury or illness will occur. Acupuncture is a means of unblocking the body’s meridians and restoring the flow of Qi.

When you have Acupuncture it is likely you will be needled not just in the area of your body where pain or dysfunction is present, but you will also be needled in aligning meridians, or parts of the body. For example, if you had a sore right shoulder you may have needles in specific spots in the shoulder, arm, torso and leg to restore flow on that side of the body.

People who perform acupuncture must have completed a Traditional Chinese Medicine degree.

Put simply, Physiotherapists and Podiatrists will use Dry Needling to target tight muscles that contribute to pain and dysfunction.

Acupuncture is also used to decrease pain but is based on restoring the flow of energy in your body.