Motor Point Therapy vs. Dry Needling

What’s the difference? And which therapy might be best for you?

Here are some answers to many common questions on the topic.

Dry needling or intramuscular stimulation (IMS) is a technique used by Physical Therapists and other allied health professionals. It’s the insertion of thin needles into the muscle tissue to help treat pain and dysfunction most often caused by trigger points.

Acupuncture is a long standing healing practice that uses the insertion of tiny needles, which encourage the body to strive for homeostasis. By achieving homeostasis or balance, many issues can be managed or eliminated. Issues including: internal medicine, orthopedic disorders and musculoskeletal pain.

Motor Point Therapy or Orthopedic Needling is a technique that has been used by Acupuncturists for many years to help treat pain, injury, or range of motion issues. Acupuncturists use specific motor points on the body to help relieve pain, relax the muscles, increase blood flow, increase oxygen, and aid in injury rehabilitation.

Acupuncturists are extensively trained in their field with over 2500 hours of classroom time, and over 900 hours of clinical, hands on time. They are highly trained in needle insertion and technique. Prior to licensure they need to complete the three to four year accredited masters program, and pass four board exams, and must complete continuing education to maintain state licensure and national board certification.

Physical Therapists are highly trained experts in their field of physical rehabilitation. In order to practice dry needling PTs typically participate in a 27-72 hour course. A standard program is a mix of classroom/online hours and hands on practice.

Dr. Janet Travell, MD, generated the term “Dry Needling” in the mid twentieth century. During this time, empty hypodermic needles were inserted into the body. The needles were hollow, and contained no medication, hence why the word, “dry” was used.  PTs have maintained the term dry needling but now use acupuncture needles as a replacement for the hypodermic ones once used.

Motor point needling and dry needling have the same end goals. Both are used to help relax and treat tight and painful areas of palpable bands on the body.  Both are an effective way to aid in the treatment of pain and musculoskeletal issues.