There are three most popular styles of acupuncture
Chinese Acupuncture, Medical Acupuncture and Dry Needling
Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine. Fine needles are inserted at certain sites in the body for therapeutic or preventative purposes.
Acupuncture is originated from China thousands years ago known as Chinese acupuncture or TCM acupuncture. It is a complementary medicine as a part of Chinese medicine. It is based on qi, meridian theory or Yin Yang theory. In this theory, there is qi which is energy force flowing through meridians or channels freely. There are 14 channels on the body with 361 classic acupuncture points. Apart from these acupuncture points there are many extra points developed or to be developed. If these channels are blocked, qi cannot run through, this will cause disharmony of the body and unbalanced Yin and Yan. Diseases may occur. Chinese acupuncture is involved insertion of needles to certain acupuncture points along certain meridians to unblock the channels and restore body harmony and Yin and Yan balance. As a consequence, it cures illness.
Differences between Chinese acupuncture and western medical acupuncture
Chinese acupuncture was introduced into Western countries for some time and adapted into western medical acupuncture using current knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology and principles based on modern medicine. This term of western medical acupuncture is used to distinguish it from traditional Chinese acupuncture. Since 1970s the concept of traditional Chinese medicine such as qi, Yin and Yang is no longer used in western medical acupuncture (WMA). According to British Medical Journal (BMJ), WMA is the form of acupuncture that is practiced predominantly by conventionally trained healthcare practitioners in western countries. It is mainly practiced by conventional doctors, physiotherapists, nurses and other healthcare practitioners working within the Western health service, mostly in primary care but also in rheumatology, orthopaedic and pain clinics. It is a part of conventional medicine rather than a complete “alternative medical system”. Western medical acupuncture is used to distinguish it from acupuncture used as a part of Chinese traditional medicine. Two important distinctions between WMA and Chinese acupuncture are that WMA does not involve the traditional concepts such as Yin/Yang and circulation of “qi”, and that WMA does not claim to be an “alternative” medical system.
Patients are benefit from these needling. The effectiveness of these needles is explained by stimulating nervous system. Acupuncture needling has local effects through local antidromic axon reflexes, releasing neuropeptides such as calcitonin gene related peptide and increasing local nutritive blood flow, improving, for example, the function of salivary glands. In the spinal cord and brain, there is well established evidence that acupuncture causes the release of opioid peptides and serotonin. The clinical effects on musculoskeletal pain are best explained by inhibition of the nociceptive pathway at the dorsal horn (segmental effects) by activation of the descending inhibitory pathways, and possibly by local or segmental effects on myofascial trigger points.
There are fewer differences between traditional Chinese acupuncture and western medical acupuncture in terms of treatment techniques. Both use manual and electrical needles. Classical acupuncture points are still applied because they are proved to be the optimal points to stimulate the nervous system. Duration of the acupuncture sessions vary from very brief to up to 20 min or 30 min.
Dry needling and acupuncture
Dry needling is a special type of acupuncture---a technique using acupuncture for the treatment of muscle pain. It is also an adaption of Chinese acupuncture. The points that dry needling used are so called trigger points which are comparable to the Ashi points in Chinese acupuncture theory. Trigger points in skeletal muscles are the most painful points on deep palpation. They also can trigger referred pain and motor dysfunction. The difference of dry needling from acupuncture is that it is not based on meridian theory; needles are not on the acupuncture points on the meridians, but on the Ashi points. Dry needlings are practiced by many physiotherapists and chiropractors in many countries.