Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Needles Are as Thin as the Evidence

By Marko Petrovic

Practitioners of dry-needling swear by it, yet there is no evidence it will relieve your muscular aches and pains.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

With alternative medicine now coming to a university near you, and the Free Trade Agreement with China pledging to welcome and promote traditional Chinese medicine in Australia, you can expect to see many more promises online and elsewhere about the alleged benefits of alternative health practices.

Dry-needling is among them. Practitioners of dry-needling swear by it, yet it is not the miracle treatment for your muscular aches and pains.

In science you cannot prove anything, only support it with evidence, yet allied health professionals who practice dry-needling often sell it as a proven and effective remedy for assorted muscle-related issues. Far from standing on the elusive pedestal of being proven, dry-needling is barely supported by good quality evidence.

Before going any further, an important distinction has to be made between dry-needling and acupuncture as the two come from the same stable and are often conflated by practitioners.

Dry-needling involves the insertion of acupuncture needles into painful nodules of taut muscle known as trigger point sites with the aim of relieving pain. It seems to be popular among those who profess to treat sports injuries.

Acupuncture is the esoteric belief that sticking needles into prescribed places on the body unblocks invisible energy channels and somehow heals the patient. Dry-needling...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.