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Physios talk about the benefits of acupuncture

BY RONDA KELLINGTON

Physiotherapists talk about using acupuncture in practice

Two physiotherapists talk about how they incorporate acupuncture into their practices, and the different types of patients they see. Watch their video conversation as they also answer the question of the differences between acupuncture and dry needling.

Fedra Salias, PT, CAFCI, works mostly with neuro patients – people with stroke, spinal cord injury. She finds acupuncture very helpful with restricted range of motion, pain, and inflammation. She uses head points to help with the fogginess some stroke patients experience. 

Sheila Williams, BMRPT, CAFCI, saw mostly orthopedic/musculoskeletal type patients when she was in practice. She found that acupuncture enhanced treatment and allowed a more holistic approach. In an example of an acute whiplash scenario with high pain level, she found physiotherapy treatment could be limited. But acupuncture could help treat anxiety, decrease pain, and relax the patient. Most importantly, she could use acupuncture points away from the area of pain.

Even in non-acute cases, Sheila used acupuncture to improve ROM, decrease muscle tightness and inflammation, and improve function.

Fedra and Sheila also discussed the differences between acupuncture and dry needling – a question we often get asked. Both techniques involve inserting a needle below the dermis, but the needles are applied differently.

In acupuncture, needles are inserted in points along meridians. The points are specific locations based on their anatomical location or the nerves they are adjacent to. And the needles are left in place for 10-15 minutes or more.

In dry needling, needles are inserted into taut bands or tender places/trigger points to release the muscle tightness.

Dry needling is good for myofascial-type pain or muscular problems, sometimes more chronic problems.

Acupuncture is used to treat different things like pain, inflammation, and neurological problems. It can be used for more systemic-type problems like improving energy, promoting relaxation, and decreasing anxiety.

Where do you start? That can depend on the patients you’re seeing and the conditions you’re treating. We see more and more students taking both acupuncture and dry needling training.
Another of our instructors, Christene Misener, BScPT, FCAMPT, CAFCI, has also written about her use of both techniques in practice. Christene took acupuncture training first and then added dry needling to her toolbox. She combines both techniques – along with patient education and exercise programs – to get the best results.

Whether acupuncture or dry needling, both techniques are remarkably useful in physiotherapy practice.

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