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Comparative Techniques of Acupuncture and Dry Needling Intersecting with Trigger Point Physiology and Diagnostics: A Cross-Discipline Narrative Review

Med Acupunct. 2023 Oct 1;35(5):220-229. doi: 10.1089/acu.2023.0031. Epub 2023 Oct 17.


BACKGROUND: Pain management is a great burden on society; therefore, cost-effective and nonaddictive treatments for pain are urgently required. Needling of painful spots has been applied in acupuncture along with dry needling <DN) to treat pain without opioids at minimal costs. However, no attempt has been made to examine DN, trigger point(TrP) physiology, and acupuncture to identify potential areas for pain-management research. This review compares the modalities of acupuncture and DN based on the current research on TrP physiology and diagnostics to advance both modalities.

METHODS: A narrative review of the literature on TrP physiology, its associated diagnostics, and the techniques of DN and acupuncture was performed.

RESULTS: Diagnostic imagery may benefit the study and treatment of TrPs using needling. Acupuncture and DN techniques are similar in their applications. However, the warm needling technique is established in acupuncture but not in dry needling. Additionally, translational difficulties have inhibited crossdiscipline learning.

CONCLUSIONS: Historical evidence suggests a need to examine the use of heat in needling further. Additional research should be conducted on TrP categories to determine if a relationship with the needling technique can be established. Furthermore, interdisciplinary communication would benefit both modalities.

PMID:37900872 | PMC:PMC10606949 | DOI:10.1089/acu.2023.0031


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