Evidence and expert opinions: Dry needling versus acupuncture (I) : The American Alliance for Professional Acupuncture Safety (AAPAS) White Paper 2016

Chin J Integr Med. 2017 Jan;23(1):3-9. doi: 10.1007/s11655-016-2630-y. Epub 2016 Dec 21.


In the last twenty years, in the United States and other Western countries, dry needling (DN) became a hot and debatable topic, not only in academic but also in legal fields. This White Paper is to provide the authoritative information of DN versus acupuncture to academic scholars, healthcare professional administrators, lawmakers, and the general public through providing the authoritative evidence and experts' opinions regarding critical issues of DN versus acupuncture, and then reach consensus. DN is the use of dry needles alone, either solid filiform acupuncture needles or hollow-core hypodermic needles, to insert into the body for the treatment of muscle pain and related myofascial pain syndrome. DN is sometimes also known as intramuscular stimulati on, trigger points (TrP) acupuncture, TrP DN, myofascial TrP DN, or biomedical acupuncture. In Western countries, DN is a form of simplified acupuncture using biomedical language in treating myofascial pain, a contemporary development of a portion of Ashi point acupuncture from Chinese acupuncture. It seeks to redefine acupuncture by reframing its theoretical principles in a Western manner. DN-like needling with filiform needles have been widely used in Chinese acupuncture practice over the past 2,000 years, and with hypodermic needles has been used in China in acupuncture practice for at least 72 years. In Eastern countries, such as China, since late of 1800s or earlier, DN is a common name of acupuncture among acupuncturists and the general public, which has a broader scope of indications, not limited to treating the myofascial pain.

Keywords: acupuncture; authoritative evidence; biomedical acupuncture; consensus; dry needling; experts’ opinions.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • China
  • Expert Testimony*
  • Humans
  • Needles*
  • Societies, Medical*
  • United States