Dry Needling Vs Western Medical Acupuncture: Which does your podiatrist use?
Dry Needling and Western Medical Acupuncture both use thin sterile stainless steel needles to produce an effective result for you if used for the right condition. Power Podiatry uses an integrated approach to this therapy so we call it “Needling” when we discuss it with you. Our Podiatrist Colin Power is trained in the use of Dry Needling and Western Medical Acupuncture and developed the Podiatry guidelines for the use of these treatments in Queensland Health Podiatry clinics.
What is Dry Needling?
Dry Needling uses thin needles to relieve mainly muscular pain associated with trigger points or tender points within the muscles. The use of Dry Needling developed from the practice of injecting a local anaesthetic into sore muscles or tight bands of muscle tissue know as trigger points. It was discovered that a similar benefit could be attained by using a thin needle (acupuncture needle) without the need for the local anaesthetic. Podiatrists are trained in the use of local anaesthetics and injection therapy so you could understand why many podiatrists use Dry Needling to relieve certain muscular conditions. Registered Podiatrists can use Dry Needling if they have undergone additional training but don’t have to have special accreditation because of their regular podiatry training. Podiatrists have been giving needles for a very long time for minor procedures like ingrown toenails so we are well trained in infection control and clinical procedures. Dry Needling is another treatment offered at Power Podiatry but we like to add the benefits found from Western Medical Acupuncture in many cases.
What is Western Medical Acupuncture?
Western medical acupuncture also involves the insertion of fine needles; it is an adaptation of Chinese acupuncture using current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, and the principles of evidence based medicine. It does not use the principles of traditional Chinese medicine such as Qi and Yin / Yang however uses many of the same acupuncture points that have been discovered to have beneficial value. In podiatry these points can be used in relation to podiatric conditions such as heel pain and ankle sprains along with many others.
Recent studies have shown that using acupuncture points over just any points may have a greater effect. In this study (Takahiro Takano et al, 2012) it was found in humans that a chemical (neurotransmitter) named adenosine was produced in greater quantities if the needle was inserted into an acupuncture point rather than a non-acupuncture point. Many studies our now delving into the scientific evidence behind these acupuncture points.The latest theories of how acupuncture works involves a local response where various chemicals are released and a central nervous system response to mediate pain. Many medical practitioners in Australia and around the world are using western medical acupuncture to benefit their patients. You may benefit from a more integrated health approach.
We use an integrated approach to needling therapy in podiatry, using the most effective evidence based therapy from the research areas of dry needling and western medical acupuncture. In your visit to make it easier we will often refer to it as needling.
We are constantly researching the use of dry needling and western medical acupuncture in our modern podiatry practice to give you the benefits of these treatments, however we only treat podiatry related conditions. Some people find these treatments extremely beneficial and go on to explore what Traditional Chinese Medical practitioners can offer for general health and wellbeing. We support people in finding what suits them in their quest for health and wellbeing.
Are there any risks to Needling therapy?
We minimise the risks by using sterile single use acupuncture needles, following strict infection control and screening for certain medical conditions. There is a low risk of:
- Minor bruising
- Muscle soreness
- Minor bleeding
What conditions do you use Needling therapy for?
- Heel Pain
- Ankle Sprains
- Achilles Tendinopathy
- Knee pain
- Muscular Pain
- Improving muscle function
- many other podiatry conditions
Do you use Needling therapy with any other treatment?
We often combine our manual therapies to produce the fastest recovery time possible. Often the therapy session will involve dry needling / western medical acupuncture, foot mobilisation, massage (soft tissue mobilisation), taping and exercise prescription. When we use other therapy like orthotic therapy we will recommend manual therapies that will complement the use of orthotics for better all-round results. We do pack a lot into a podiatry visit and this is why our podiatry visits are longer than most.
How often do I need Dry Needling / Western Medical Acupuncture?
Some people tell us that acupuncture doesn’t work for them only to find out that they tried it once and never went back for the follow-up visit. It is best to realise that this type of treatment often needs multiple visits. We tell our patients that if you are not willing to give it three goes then it is not worth trying at all so they understand that it is not a one hit wonder. Some research suggests that 70% of people respond to acupuncture type treatment which means that 30% don’t.
An integrated approach to dry needling / western medical acupuncture is worth considering as part of your overall treatment plan for your foot and leg problem. Give it a far go and if you are not gaining the benefits that you feel that you should then discuss this with your podiatrist. Many conditions take a lot longer to heal than any of us want…we understand the frustration. Often people are much further along the recovery cycle than they think and just need a review of the treatment plan and a bit of encouragement. If things are not progressing then we need to try something else, it is as simple as that.
So give needling a three visit go before you decide if it is right for you. You may need more visits but we feel that this should be a good indicator.