» Blog
» Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture: What Is Better for You?
Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture: What Is Better for You?

Acupuncture and dry needling both use tiny stainless-steel needles that are inserted into the skin to relieve pain. However, that is where the similarities end. Knowing the difference between dry needling and acupuncture can help you determine which one is the best for you.

What is Dry Needling?

It is a contemporary technique that is used to relieve muscle discomfort. This technique uses a fine needle to release shortened or tight muscles “trigger points.” The physiotherapist will locate the source of your pain and the active trigger points. Then by inserting a fine sterile needle into the shortened fibers, the muscle may elect a twitch, and by doing so, it releases the tight bands and reduces the muscle tone. Which in turn results in less pain and improved range of motion and flexibility. This aids in loosening the knot and provides relief from any muscular discomfort or spasms. If you are interested in dry needling, look for someone with postgraduate dry needling training, such as a physiotherapist.

Benefits of Dry Needling

Dry needling reduces the tension in the trigger points, which in turn reduces pain and tightness. Furthermore, releasing trigger points may enhance flexibility and range of motion. It also promotes blood flow and the body’s natural inflammatory response, which stimulates the natural healing process. As a result, this approach is commonly used to treat sports injuries, muscle pain, and even fibromyalgia symptoms.

Side Effects or Risks of Dry Needling

There are mild side effects with dry needling, and severe negative effects are uncommon. The most common side effects associated with injection sites are:

  • Bruising

  • Temporary discomfort during treatment

  • Temporary increase in pain or soreness after treatment may last up to 48hrs

  • Tiredness and/or fatigue


Acupuncture can be divided into two main foundational philosophical applications and approaches. The first is the modern standardized form based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles. The second is an older system based on the ancient Taoist Wuxing, better known as the five elements or phases in the West. Both techniques involve inserting thin metal needles into different acupoints inside the body, which are manipulated manually with the aim of releasing endorphins and affecting the nervous system.

Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is used to treat a wide range of medical diseases and symptoms, including:

  • Pain

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Headache

  • Menstrual Cramps

  • Allergies

  • Stress

Side Effects or Risks of Acupuncture

Side effects and dangers are extremely uncommon in acupuncture, but on rare occasions, someone may encounter:

  • Acupuncture site discomfort

  • Bruising

  • Temporary soreness

  • Fatigue and tiredness

Dry Needling Vs. Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is treated with both acupuncture and dry needling. Acupuncture and dry needling, in particular, have been found to be effective in the treatment of knee discomfort caused by arthritic disease.

Non-trigger point dry needling is more successful than standard dry needling alone in treating knee and hip osteoarthritis because it addresses a greater region of muscles and nerves. The non-trigger dry needling method is more akin to acupuncture.

If you want to learn more about if dry needling or acupuncture is right for you, contact us today to schedule an appointment. At Radiant Physiotherapy, our team of certified professional physiotherapists is committed to effectively relieving pain, so you can get back to living your regular life.