Here is a little trick that you might not know.
I have tried this a few times, on myself and on others. One time with needles and all other times with just the finger. The needle worked like a miracle, unbelievably quick result. Granted, it's one one data point, an exciting and encouraging one nonetheless. If you press the point Ren-17 with just your finger, it'll still help. It'll just take a little longer, that's all.
So, next time when you find yourself having a bout of hiccups, or someone else. Instead of reaching out for a brown paperbag or a glass of water. Give this a try. It's pretty cool!
It looks like more and more chiropractors are expanding the scope of their practice by incorporating dry needling as a part of the "pain treatment". For an acupuncturist who welds needles as his primary modality, I see this as a positive development, because it further validates needling as a highly viable modality for soft tissue dysfunctions. And more importantly, it means that the needling can be effective without the usual confinement of TCM.
However, the inevitable question arises: how does a chiropractor's dry needling differ from an acupuncturist's acupuncture? It's always good for the consumers to have options, but options without clear delineation are confusing.
So, I am going to lay it down for you. Here are the top 3 reasons why I would get needled by an acupuncturist instead of a chiropractor.
1. Amount of training. An acupuncturist went to a 3 year program to learn how to needle people. A chiropractor goes to a weekend program and gets certified in dry needling. I think it is great that chiropractors want to learn more about the benefits of needling. But at the end of the day, their core competency is in manual adjustment, not in needling. When you are at the receiving end of the needling, which would you choose? Someone whose main charter is needling or someone who goes to a weekend workshop to learn to needle? I think the answer is rather obvious for most of us.
2. The whole premise of dry needling is straight forward: if it hurts here, put a needle here; if it hurts there, put a needle there. Very straight forward. While this clinical approach works for trigger points (TrPts) induced myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), it is far from being the appropriate approach for almost anything else. This is particularly true for pains that occur on/near the joints or anywhere that is not close to the motor points.
3. The difference in this approach is also a manifestation on the difference in thought process between these two specializations. The dry needling approach is very matter-of-factly: find painful tender points, insert needles. Now, it is important to acknowledge and respect the usefulness of this approach, because depending on the patient's clinical manifestation, it can be an effective and thus appropriate approach. However, acupuncturists are trained to look at the patient's whole picture and prescribe necessary needling to address the systemic issues to encourage overall healing, in addition to the patient's chief complaint. In real life practice, this is particularly important for the following reasons:
a. Dry needling is most applicable in areas where there are big muscles, therefore pains that occur near bony parts of the body, namely near a joint or extremity, or head and neck more often respond better to distal points than direct needling.
b. Very often pains are caused by dysfunctions in other parts of the body, meaning, pain occurring at location A can be caused by problems are location B, so if needling is applied at location A, it would miss the target completely
c. Also, at the end of the day, the patients must have sufficient capacity to heal on their own. While that heavily depends on the patient's constitution, age, health conditions, etc., the practitioner needs to be mindful about helping remove as many residual stress response as possible. By doing, there are few stress alarms and thus fewer battles for the body to attend, and that would have a huge impact on the likelihood of recovery. Acupuncture approaches like the Kiiko Matsumoto style is particularly good at eliminating residual stress response around the abdomen, a common area for most people to retain their stress responses.
So, I hope provide you with some useful tidbits in discerning the two approaches. If I need to get needled, the choice is obvious. But I would certainly encourage you to consult your practitioner first and ask as many questions as possible before you commit to working with him or her. It's great to have many options, but that comes with the responsibility of making the right decision. By that, I hope I have made that task a bit easier for you.