Prickly Debate: "Dry Needling"

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POSTED: Friday, October 25, 2013 - 6:00pm

UPDATED: Friday, October 25, 2013 - 6:09pm

Dry needling looks a lot like acupuncture but physical therapists say it's not. But does it relieve pain or just cause more problems? Trisha Hendricks reports.

(KPNX) If you suffer from chronic pain, or know someone who does finding relief is all that matters.

So when physical therapists began promoting a method called "dry needling" patients took note.

So did acupuncturists who claim the procedure poses serious health risks and they want it banned.
Matt Kramer is a certified dry needling clinician at endurance rehab in Phoenix, Arizona.

"It allows for increase in blood supply, reduction in abnormal neuro-firing, helps to calm down abnormally hyper tissue or reactive tissue," said Kramer.

He says dry needling isn't for everyone, but he has seen patients get pain relief from it.

Tammy Nicolson is one of those patients.
"Because I've had a lot of chronic issues with my hamstrings after running and training for ironmans," said Nicolson.

"You just feel a little bit of a poke and then the needle is in and it just kind of hangs out, you can feel a little bit achy but overall it's felt fine."

After 10 minutes, she's all done.

She's also a physical therapist and says her patients swear by it.

"i know that it is something that is worthwhile," Nicolson said.

It may work for Nicholson but the treatment she underwent is surrounded with criticism.

Lloyd wright has been a licensed acupuncturist for 28 years and is one of the board of directors for Coalition of Arizona Acupuncture Safety.

He says dry needling is actually acupuncture without the complete schooling.

"The problem is that they are going for a weekend or two weekends of training and they're going out and doing this," Wright said.

"When you have somebody who picks up a little sliver of knowledge, just like any tiny sliver of knowledge it can be dangerous."

Wright says dry needling patients are exposing themselves to health risks like extreme pain, nerve damage even punctured organs in a worst case scenario.

"Bruising, contusions, some points can actually cause a miscarriage," Wright said.

Risks he hopes patients who are undergoing dry needling treatments never have to deal with.

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