Needling stirs debate between acupuncturists, therapists - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Dry needling stirs debate between acupuncturists and physical therapists

You've heard of acupuncture, but have you heard of dry needling? They're very similar, but some local acupuncturists say physical therapists are using this treatment with minimal training. 

If you ask an acupuncturist and a physical therapist about the different between acupuncture and dry needling, you'll get two different answers. But both involve pricking the skin with tiny needles, and the rules in Arizona on who can do what may soon change.

"Acupuncturist are trained for a minimum of 1,800 hours supervised time," said Lloyd Wright, who performs acupuncture in Scottsdale. He said he is concerned that physical therapists are doing what he does with a fraction of the training.

He said dry needling is a lot like acupuncture, but is more localized. Instead of placing needles on certain energy points around the body, he places them on or near the site of pain. But he said if done incorrectly, it can have nasty effects. 

"Bruising, discomfort, damage to a nerve," Wright said.

Local acupuncturists are concerned about physical therapists perform dry needling, saying it's not within their scope of practice and they only go through a weekend course. They've filed several complaints with the state board of physical therapy. 

"Let's sit down and formulate a good curriculum that brings them up to a standard," Wright said.

"I feel very confident and safe in treating my patients with little risk, not there isn't any risk at all," said physical therapist Sean Flannagan. He said he disagrees that dry needling is the same thing as acupuncture. But he agrees some ground rules should be set. 

"I would be against saying physical therapists can't do this," Flannagan said. "I'm not against us having a certain amount of requirements to do it."

The state board will be discussing this matter at their meeting Tuesday. For more information, visit:
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