Contrary to popular Western belief, acupuncture is not just a system for inserting very fine needles into specific body locations to alleviate pain. Acupuncture is a complete medical protocol focused on correcting imbalances of energy in the body. From its inception in China more than 2,500 years ago, acupuncture has been used traditionally to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, as well as to improve general health.

Dr Axe, Dr Weil, Acupuncture Today

Electroacupuncture is quite similar to traditional acupuncture in that the same points are stimulated during treatment. As with traditional acupuncture, needles are inserted on specific points along the body. The needles are then attached to a device that generates continuous electric pulses using small clips. These devices are used to adjust the frequency and intensity of the impulse being delivered, depending on the condition being treated. Electroacupuncture uses two needles at time so that the impulses can pass from one needle to the other. Several pairs of needles can be stimulated simultaneously, usually for no more than 30 minutes at a time.

What conditions are commonly treated by acupuncture?

Hundreds of clinical studies on the benefits of acupuncture show that it successfully treats conditions ranging from musculoskeletal problems (back pain, neck pain, and others) to nausea, migraine headache, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and infertility.


Cupping is the term applied to a technique that uses small glass cups or bamboo jars as suction devices that are placed on the ski to disperse and break up stagnation and congestion by drawing congested blood, energy or other humors to the surface. Once the suction has occurred, the cups can be gently moved across the skin (often referred to as "gliding cupping). Medical massage oils are sometimes applied to improve movement of the glass cups along the skin. The suction in the cups causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. Cupping is much like the inverse of massage - rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle pressure to pull them upward. For most patients, this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation. Once suctioned, the cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes while the patient relaxes.

MFD is based on assessing and correcting movement inefficiencies. Backgrounds in biomechanics, kinesiology, and functional anatomy are essential to identify and treat ROM restrictions and muscular imbalance. Interventions include neuromuscular re-education, AAROM, and PNF, making the patient an active participant in their treatment. Traditional cupping does not include active movement, and often is targeting energetic imbalances from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective. MFD is a novel approach to musculoskeletal treatment, utilizing negative pressure tools and western medicine based movement paradigms and algorithms. These applications are very effective for orthopedics, sports medicine, contractures, post-op recovery, overcoming dominance strategies, postural syndromes, hand therapy, neuro re-education, and scar mobilization

Dry Needling History
Dry needling is a term coined by Dr. Janet Travell in the 1980’s. This term distinguishes between trigger point injection, where an anesthetic or other substance is injected into a trigger point (a tender focal area of tension within a muscle or other soft tissue), and simply piercing the trigger point with a needle (hypodermic or filiform).

Who Uses Dry Needling?
Dry needling is now practiced by physical therapists, chiropractors, M.D.s, and acupuncturists. Is there a difference between ashi (literally “ah that’s it”) style acupuncture and dry needling? In my opinion, no. Dry needling now usually uses a filiform needle (an acupuncture needle) and tender spots are needled (classically described ashi points).

There is now a turf war going on (“scope of practice”) between various practitioners and involving the various state licensing bodies. Whoever wins in any given state is granted a monopoly to legally perform the dry needling procedure.

I think it is a tribute to the effectiveness of this therapy that many practitioners are interested in learning it. But the fact is that acupuncture needles have been used on tender spots in the body for thousands of years and it’s been called ashi acupuncture. Now certain practitioners want to perform the same therapy but call it dry needling. Isn’t this analogous to someone adjusting the spine like a chiropractor but now wanting to call it “crickety crack” to avoid licensing laws?

Two Specialties of Acupuncture
I really think that there are 2 specialties of acupuncture; “meridian” style acupuncture (maybe it could be called “distal point acupuncture”?) and ashi style acupuncture. Studying “meridian” style acupuncture really doesn’t prepare one well to practice ashi style and vice versa. Learning “meridian” style necessitates the study of the signs and symptoms of dysfunction of the internal organs as described by the ancient Chinese. Tongue and pulse reading may also be important. But with ashi style anatomy is paramount. And study of texts by M.D.s on trigger point work or pain referral patterns of the various muscles is often much more clinically useful than ancient Chinese concepts of physiology.

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Regardless of what we call it, inserting a needle into the taut tender areas of the muscles is incredibly effective for treating pain.



Dr Axe, Dr Weil, Acupuncture Today

Pacific college of Oriental Medicine


Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine