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Dry Needling


Needling someone can be annoying, offensive, and mean. But therapeutic? Well it turns out it can be, if done drily. On May 13th 2013, the North Dakota Board of Physical Therapy voted to extend the scope of practice for North Dakota physical therapists to include dry needling. Such a thing may sound scary or painful, but it is actually noninvasive. The practice is similar to acupuncture, but developed separately in the 1940s.

Both use the same type of needles. The difference is acupuncture relies on traditional Chinese medicine, while dry needling is based on neuroanatomy and scientific research. It involves finding trigger points, which are areas where the muscle is hypersensitive. When these spots are pierced with a needle, the patient will feel pain, whereas a healthy muscle hardly feels anything.

Setting off a trigger point can create the sensation of a muscle cramp, which is called the “twitch response.” Sometimes it recreates the chronic pain the patient has been experiencing, helping the therapist figure out the cause.

Before the dry needling policy was passed, the practice was not considered part of a North Dakota physical therapist’s scope of practice. This meant the therapist would have to refer the patient to a different practitioner.

The approval has been welcome, as needling has proven effective for tense muscles, pain control, speeding rehabilitation and more.

Dakota Datebook written by Lucid Thomas