Background Information on Dry Needling

By Dr. Abrahamson on

Over the years there has been a gradual and purposeful taking from the body of Chinese medicine in the United States and elsewhere. Certain individuals and groups have taken parts of Chinese medicine, renamed them for marketing purposes, and then repackaged them as original discoveries. For example, gua sha has been renamed and trademarked as a soft tissue mobilization technique, and cupping has been renamed and trademarked as myofacial decompression therapy. In both of these cases, no credit is given to Chinese medicine. Finally, acupuncture itself has been renamed and peddled as “dry needling” with credit given to western medicine for the discovery of tender points (ashi points) and the pain relieving effect resulting from needling them. Non-qualified allied health workers are performing “dry needling” on their patients with as little as a weekend course. Even some athletic trainers are performing “dry needling” with minimal training.

In Arizona and throughout the United States, a rapidly growing number of allied health professionals are now performing the unlicensed and illegal practice of acupuncture under the guise of “dry needling” (which is ashi point acupuncture) in clear violation of state legislative statutes. Instead of expanding their scope of practice through the lengthy and unpredictable legislative process, these allied health professionals are having their regulatory boards simply proclaim that “dry needling” is not acupuncture and, therefore, within their scope of practice. These regulatory boards do not have the authority to expand scope of practice on their own- they must go through legislation. The public, unaware of this, is mislead into believing that these regulatory boards are acting with legal authority – which they are not. Rather, they are operating in their profession’s own self-interest to the detriment of public health and safety.

These allied health professions would like law makers and the public to believe that the real issue is one of “turf wars” and that it is practitioners of acupuncture that are trying to stop the free exchange of practices between allied health professions. This is a lie. In reality, these allied health professions are cleverly and methodically attempting to disallow practitioners of acupuncture from practicing asbi point acupuncture. One state allied health professional organization has even gone so far as to boldly claim that practitioners of acupuncture are not allowed to insert acupuncture needles into muscle, for that would be the practice of western medicine’s “dry needling.”

In order to stop this serious threat to public health and safety and our profession, your immediate response is needed. Only by learning about the problem and taking swift and meaningful action can this be accomplished. Only by the acupuncture community coming together on this issue and acting in a sustained and focused manner, will we be able to succeed.

NCASI Board of Trustees:

Our very own Arizona website:


  1. These efforts need to be commended. As your Canadian allies we too face these challenges. I think its time Canadians, from all provinces, mobilize to protect the public and our profession!!

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