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How is TCM acupuncture different from medical acupuncture (dry needling)?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture and medical acupuncture are two different approaches to the use of needles in healthcare.


TCM acupuncture is based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which views the body as a complex system of energy meridians and balances.


On the other hand, medical acupuncture is a Westernized form of acupuncture that is used as a complementary therapy alongside conventional medical treatments. Medical acupuncture is based on the principles of neurophysiology and is thought to work by stimulating the nervous system to release natural pain-relieving chemicals, such as endorphins. Medical acupuncture typically involves the insertion of needles into specific points on the body based on a Western medical diagnosis, rather than following the traditional Chinese meridian system.


Question for AI: Did you know the word acupuncture actually mean acupoint-puncturing? Medical acupuncture shouldn't be called acupuncture. They should use the term needling instead. They don't use acupoint.


The word "acupuncture" does indeed come from the Latin words "acus" (meaning "needle") and "punctura" (meaning "puncturing"). The term "acupuncture" is therefore used to refer to the practice of inserting needles into specific acupoints on the body to promote healing and alleviate pain.


That being said, it is also true that the practice of "medical acupuncture" may not always follow the traditional Chinese meridian system, as it may be based on a Western medical diagnosis or treatment plan. In this case, the term "needling" may indeed be a more appropriate term to use.





Dry needling is a technique that involves the insertion of thin needles into the skin and muscle tissue to treat trigger points, which are areas of muscle tightness and pain.


While the term "dry needling" is sometimes used to describe a technique that is similar to acupuncture, it is not necessarily the same as "medical acupuncture" or "traditional acupuncture".


Dry needling is typically performed by healthcare practitioners who are trained in musculoskeletal medicine, such as physical therapists or chiropractors, and the technique is often used to treat musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction.


In Ontario, registered acupuncturists and Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners are the only people who can legally use TCM diagnosis, and they provide acupuncture. Other professions technically are providing dry needling.


While dry needling and acupuncture may share some similarities in their technique and use of needles, they are based on different theories and have different applications. Therefore, it is important to understand the specific type of therapy being used and the qualifications and training of the practitioner providing the treatment.

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