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What’s the difference between Dry Needling and Acupuncture?

Ever wondered what the difference between dry needling and acupuncture is, as well as when you would benefit from one over the other?

If so, read on below to find out!

Acupuncture and dry needling are both techniques that involve the use of thin needles inserted into the skin to alleviate pain and other symptoms. Both are widely adapted methods to treat patients in Australia. But I assume you might have heard and experienced Dry needling much more than Acupuncture.

This blog post is written by Remedial Massage Therapist, Matt Kim, who works out of our Chatswood & Sydney CBD & Mosman locations at Infinite Health Group.

About dry needling and acupuncture, Matt mentions:

“They have many common features but different approaches in how they are used to treat symptoms and diseases.”- Remedial Massage Therapist - Matt Kim

Here are differences between them two:

Historical origins

Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that has been practiced for thousands of years.

Dry needling is a technique that was developed in the 20th century by medical doctors and physical therapists.

Theoretical underpinnings

Acupuncture is based on the concept of Qi (pronounced "chee"), which is believed to flow through meridians in the body. The goal of acupuncture is to stimulate and restore the flow of Qi and balance of the body.

Dry needling is based on anatomy and muscle structures.


Acupuncture needles are typically inserted at specific points along the meridians, which are thought to correspond to specific organs and bodily functions. The needles may be left in place for a period of time (usually 20m to 30m upon diseases and symptoms) and may be manipulated or stimulated to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.

Dry needling involves inserting needles into trigger points in the muscle, which are thought to be areas of tightness and hypersensitivity. The needles are often moved to elicit a twitch response, which can help to release tension in the muscle.


Acupuncture is a licensed and regulated profession in many countries including Australia, and practitioners must acquire a bachelor degree in the profession in Australia or an equivalent course from abroad to register at AHPRA as acupuncturist. Dry needling is typically performed by physiotherapists, chiropractors, or other healthcare professionals who have received specialized training and certification in the technique.


Acupuncture is commonly used for a wide range of conditions, including pain, internal medicine, skin, digestive issues, mental health concerns, etc.

Dry needling is typically used to treat musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, such as back pain, neck pain, and sports injuries.


​Common Area

Insertion of needles into the skin, trigger points, both effects benefit by twitch sensations, stimulating method

Different Areas

In their theoretical underpinnings, techniques (depth and angle), training and uses


Both of them are strong needles! Can’t say which one is stronger!

It's important to consult a qualified practitioner to determine which technique is best suited to your individual needs.

Matt treats multiple patients per week with dry needling, massage therapy and cupping treatment, and successfully gets them back to daily life activities/sports quickly and safely.

Want to try out dry needling with our professional? Click the button below!

If you’ve enjoyed the read, please feel free to click here to check out more of our educational blog posts.


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