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What is dry needling?

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Practitioners of dry needling insert a filament needle into muscular trigger points to evoke a local twitch response and relieve neuropathic pain, says Neurosport Physical Therapy. Dry needling by practitioners not certified in acupuncture is controversial because of the treatment's similarity to acupuncture, states the Wisconsin Society of Certified Acupuncturists.

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Physical therapists who practice dry needling describe the practice as using western neuroanatomy and knowledge of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems to identify myofascial trigger points and insert a needle into these points to trigger a spasm that ultimately relieves pain associated with that point, explains Neurosport Physical Therapy. These trigger points are described as "knots" that are palpable, hyperirritable and hypersensitive. Practitioners say that a healthy muscle does not respond to the insertion of the needle while injured muscles react in a way that may be painful, but stimulates healing. The needle itself does not cause pain upon insertion.

Dry needling is a legal practice in about 60 percent of the United States, according to Integrative Dry Needling, a provider of dry needling courses. The other 40 percent of states have either outlawed dry needling or have unclear or conflicting standards with regard to the people who can practice the treatment.

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