What is Dry Needling & Medical Acupuncture?

Medical acupuncture is an interpretation of the traditional Chinese Acupuncture approach used by physiotherapists, doctors, sports physicians, and pain management specialists worldwide. The key difference when using medical acupuncture is the practitioner first makes a western medical diagnosis and then uses acupuncture as a treatment technique based on a scientific understanding of how acupuncture influences the body's neurophysiology. 

Medical acupuncture stimulates the nerves in skin and muscle and can produce various effects. We know that acupuncture increases blood flow and promotes tissue healing and repair. It also increases the release of natural painkillers - endorphin and serotonin - in the spinal cord's pain pathways and brain; this modifies how pain signals are received.

When medical acupuncture is used to treat tender muscle 'knots' known as myofascial trigger points, it may be called dry needling. Sometimes the terms medical acupuncture and dry needling are used interchangeably. For more about myofascial trigger points, please click here.

In physiotherapy, medical acupuncture and dry needling can reduce pain, ease muscle tension, deactivate myofascial trigger points, and promote tissue healing. Medical acupuncture & dry needling may be used in combination with other physiotherapy techniques such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, electrotherapy, and pain neuroscience education as part of an integrated biopsychosocial treatment approach.

For more information about Acupuncture in Medicine, please check out this article.

Conditions Treated

If you are suffering from any of the following conditions, a treatment approach that includes medical acupuncture & dry needling may help provide effective pain relief and improve your mobility, strength and physical function.

  • Myofascial trigger points
  • Headaches including migraine and tension headaches
  • Shoulder pain, including rotator cuff dysfunction and frozen shoulder
  • Low back and neck pain
  • Osteoarthritis, for example of the knee joint
  • Tendinopathies, for example, tennis elbow and Achilles tendon
  • Reduced joint mobility due to persistent stiffness and pain

Are there risks?

Medical acupuncture is a very low-risk technique, with less than one serious adverse event in every 200,000 treatments reported. In general, serious adverse events have been shown in research to be very rare. As an AHPRA registered physiotherapist, I will ensure you receive medical acupuncture and dry needling, following all treatment and safety guidelines.

How many sessions will I need?

Every patient will have an initial assessment, followed by a course of treatment suitable for the condition. A typical course of physiotherapy treatment that includes medical acupuncture and dry needling is six to eight sessions depending on the type of condition, how long you have been experiencing symptoms and your individual response to treatment.

The treatment involves fine needles being inserted through the skin and left in position for a time. Manual or low voltage electrical stimulation is sometimes applied to increase the therapeutic effects. The number of needles varies depending on the patient and the treated condition.

Treatment with Simon

My skills and experience in using medical acupuncture and related needling techniques in physiotherapy have developed over 22 years in various settings such as professional sports in South Africa, the National Health Service in the UK, and private practice in Ireland and Australia.

As an AHPRA registered physiotherapist and accredited British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) member, I follow a professional code of conduct and specific acupuncture needling guidelines to ensure patient safety and welfare.

I am the Chair of the BMAS Competence, Accreditation and Examining Board and lecture on the Foundation Course in Medical Acupuncture. I have provided further education courses for medical and allied health practitioners to learn how to safely and effectively integrate the use of medical acupuncture.

I am passionate about using medical acupuncture as a treatment technique. It allows me to achieve excellent clinical results and help many of my patients live more comfortable, active and healthy lives.

Simon Coghlan

MSc, BSc Hons, DipMedAc

Simon is a Shoulder & Spine Physiotherapy Specialist
Sports & Spinal Baringa, Sunshine Coast
Queensland, Australia. 
Sports Spinal
To book an appointment, please call 
(07) 5346 4043

Latest Blog Post

08 August 2022
Pain in the middle of the back, usually the lower part, is often due to internal derangement of the intervertebral disc, which sits between the vertebra. When the disc is strained, which may result in some local inflammation, the nerve endings which ...
23 July 2022
Patient safety is essential when using dry needling as part of a physiotherapy treatment plan.   The risk of severe adverse events, such as pneumothorax, is extremely low. Statistical analysis has estimated the risk rate of severe adverse events...
© 2022 ~ www.dryneedlingphysio.com.au ~ Simon Coghlan