Dry Needling v Acupuncture – What’s The Difference?

When it comes to Acupuncture v Dry Needling have you ever thought to yourself, what actually is the difference?

Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, and is a well-known form of Chinese medicine. Here at Progressive Sports and Spinal Physiotherapy we often use Dry Needling to support our patients, and although the equipment is technically the same, our aim is significantly different to those in traditional medicine.

What is the difference?

Acupuncture aims to increase the flow of essential energy around the body, to lower pain, swelling and discomfort. It is believed that by increasing the flow of energy, or redirecting around blockages, other issues and illnesses can be managed and prevented. Dry needling is a form of intra-muscular stimulation or IMS, this means that the needles are inserted into the muscle to help relieve “knots” and trigger points. In these areas, the blood vessels and nerves are often compressed causing acid build up and often issues with mobility and pain.

How do these knots and trigger points happen?

Myofascial Dysfunction is the technical term for this, and it can happen to anyone at any time in almost any activity. The muscle has twisted/contracted, and has not relaxed.

  • Injury – over-doing it in a movement, or not allowing a muscle to rest properly
  • Quick or unexpected jerking movements – turning your head too quickly, or slipping
  • Overuse – for example sitting at a desk, or in the same position for too long
  • Stress
  • Change in exercise routine, increase in training
  • Some conditions, illness and diseases

How does dry needling actually help?

The needles used are extremely fine, and are gently inserted through the skin straight into the muscle where the knot or trigger point has occurred – some people may need multiple needles across various points to have the most benefit. As the body notices this “foreign object”, it send blood to the area. Blood filling the knot/trigger point allows it to release the tension (and any trapped nerves and blood vessels). It also helps to wash out any nasty acid build ups and allow the healing process to start if necessary.

Think you might benefit from this?

Trust Progressive Sports and Spinal Physiotherapy and their elite team of physiotherapists to work with you, and for you, to get you back on your feet when it counts the most. We take a holistic approach, and work alongside you every step of the way to make it as hassle-free as possible! Contact the practice for an assessment today on (02) 4721 7798, email info@progressiverehab.com.au or book your next appointment here.

Elin, is an alumni of St. Edward’s University and holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, furthered her academic journey by attaining a Doctor of Physiotherapy from Macquarie University in 2022.

Her passion for sports, particularly football (soccer), is evident in both her academic pursuits and personal endeavors. Specialising in the comprehensive well-being of athletes, Elin focuses on restoring them to peak performance while actively preventing future injuries.

Elin’s professional expertise is centered on musculoskeletal rehabilitation, with a specific emphasis on addressing and preventing knee injuries. Her approach integrates expert treatment with a commitment to educating and empowering patients, fostering their active involvement in enhancing their health and overall quality of life.

As an active participant in NPL football with SD Raiders, Elin brings firsthand experience and a profound understanding of the sport’s demands. Beyond the field, she extends her influence by contributing sports coverage over the weekends.

Christopher (Chris) Han graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy, and then completed the Doctor of Physiotherapy program at Macquarie University in 2018. Chris is currently undertaking his PhD at the University of Sydney and Institute for Musculoskeletal Health in the field of low back pain and is due to complete this in early 2024. 

Chris is currently an assistant Physiotherapist for the NRL Referees. Chris has previous experience as the head Physiotherapist at Panthers Premier League Netball and a number of elite sporting athletes in the private setting.

Through Chris’ experiences, he has a particular interest in all areas of the body and musculoskeletal physiotherapy, sports, vestibular rehabilitation, and Men’s Health (pre and post prostate surgery).

Suzanne graduated from Western Sydney University with a Bachelor of Health Science (Sports and Exercise Science) in 2015. She then went on to continue her studies at Macquarie University graduating from the Doctor of Physiotherapy post-graduate degree in June 2019.

Since graduating, Suzanne has worked in the local Penrith area in both private practice and Sports Physiotherapy. Suzanne has worked with sporting teams including Penrith District Netball Association, Mt Druitt Rangers (NPL), Penrith Valley Figure Skating Club, and local dance and cheer schools. 

Suzanne has a particular interest in working with artistic athletes including cheerleaders and dancers. She has a professional background in both cheer and dance and has previously worked as both a cheer coach and dance teacher. Suzanne’s previous experiences are an invaluable resource to her as a physiotherapist, as she has a thorough understanding of the level of physical fitness and skill acquisition that these athletes must have in order to be successful on stage and in competition.

Suzanne’s other areas of clinical interest reside in lower limb musculoskeletal injuries, spinal pathologies and women’s health.

Nathanial graduated as a physiotherapist in 2012 which saw him work in private practice and hospital settings gaining experience in all areas of physiotherapy including hand therapy, splinting/casting, pre/post-operative care, Men’s Health and general musculoskeletal, occupational and sports physiotherapy. Since then he has gone on to complete further studies in physiotherapy enabling him to be the only dual titled Musculoskeletal, Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist in Penrith.

Nathanial has a strong background in sports physiotherapy achieving accreditation with NSWIS as a service provider and working with many elite sports teams.

Nathanial has a particular interest in working with elite athletes, complex cases and in particular assessment and management of knee, hip and shoulder pain.

Andrea graduated from the Australian Catholic University completing her Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science in 2018 and Master’s of Clinical Exercise Physiology in 2020. After graduating she attained accreditation with ESSA as an Exercise Physiologist.

During her studies she gained clinical experience in both hospital and private practice settings, in cardiac rehabilitation, neurological conditions, cancer and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.

Since working at Progressive, Andrea has a specialist interest in treating musculoskeletal injuries, helping people in the mid-late stage of rehab to get them to return to sport or work. As well as helping people manage chronic conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes.