Letter: Controversies surrounding dry needling
Dear Tahoe Tribune,
We are writing in response to Autumn Whitney’s Jan. 18 article about the growth of the new physical therapy business KinesioActiv in Zephyr Cove. Among the services offered there is dry needling. We thought it fair to let your readers know about the controversies that surround dry needling.
There are currently no specifications as to training or proficiency standards issued by the Nevada State Board of Physical Therapy for a physical therapist to perform dry needling. It is not in any way currently regulated or overseen by the board. It is up to individual practitioners to decide if they are sufficiently trained.
Physical therapy degree training programs do not teach dry needling. The training most physical therapists receive is as little as a weekend seminar in order to receive a “certificate” in dry needling from the training company, Kinetacore.
I’ll repeat: A certificate in dry needling is gotten for 10 hours of online instruction and 19 hours at a seminar.
As the article indicated, dry needling is much like acupuncture because practitioners use acupuncture needles inserted into acupuncture points. However, they have changed the nomenclature of this practice and turned “acupuncture” into “dry needling,” “acupuncture points” into “trigger points,” and they say that it is a different procedure because the concept is based on Western medicine instead of Eastern medicine.
In reality, it is in its practice identical to orthopedic acupuncture. What is very different is that an acupuncture doctor in this state is required to attend a four-year graduate school program after obtaining a bachelor’s degree, pass two very stringent licensing examinations, and maintain licensure with yearly proof of continuing education attendance. To claim to do “dry needling,” a physical therapist is supposed to take a weekend course, but there is no current enforcement of even that.
Just a few miles away in California, it is illegal for a physical therapist to perform dry needling, as there they recognize that it is in every way orthopedic acupuncture, and the standards there (like here in Nevada) to perform therapeutic needling safely and effectively are established in state law. In California those state laws protecting public safety can’t be evaded by a simple changing of what we call the procedure.
We would argue that if physical therapists are using the same tools in the same manner for the same purpose, but merely changing the name from acupuncture to dry needling and claiming a different explanation of why it works (which, by the way, is one of the same explanations as is taught in acupuncture colleges across the nation), they should be held to the same rigorous standards and oversight.
Currently in Nevada they are not. And members of the public who will be making healthcare decisions for themselves have a right to know.
Dr. Sharon Roth, OMD, L.Ac.
Dr. Katania Taylor, OMD