PDF Version [PDF - 197 KB] (Updated on January 1, 2019)
Acupuncture, which originated in China, is a sophisticated type of surgery that treats or prevents a disease or condition by affecting the structure or function of the body with an acupuncture needle (a long, thin, flexible needle) inserted through the skin and into an acupuncture point or area (a specific tissue point or area) [1–6]. Acupuncture is based on anatomy, physiology, and pathology [1,4–14].
Dry needling is acupuncture that treats or prevents a disease or condition, in particular a musculoskeletal disease or condition, by affecting the structure or function of the body with an acupuncture needle inserted through the skin and into an acupuncture point or area that has become exquisitely painful on pressure, commonly known in the West as a trigger point or area .
Dry needling is not new. It was described in the first century BCE in the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic (traditional Chinese: 黃帝內經; pinyin: Huáng Dì nèi jīng), the foundational text of Chinese medicine .
As exposed by the Dry Needling Adverse Event Tracking System (DNAETS) map, dry needling is unsafe when unqualified practitioners of acupuncture, such as physical therapists, perform it.
Dry Needling Adverse Event Tracking System (DNAETS) Map
To see some of the serious adverse events caused by unqualified practitioners of acupuncture, such as physical therapists, performing dry needling, click on the red-colored states in the DNAETS map below. The DNAETS map was updated on September 1, 2018.
To report a serious adverse event caused by an unqualified practitioner of acupuncture, such as a physical therapist, performing dry needling, use the Dry Needling Adverse Event Reporting System (DNAERS) form. The National Center for Acupuncture Safety and Integrity (NCASI) will use the information as part of our legislative and administrative advocacy work.
An acupuncture needle is a restricted medical device under section 520(e) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. § 360j(e)) .
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restricted the sale, distribution, and use of an acupuncture needle “to prescription use” . In addition, FDA further restricted the sale, distribution, and use of an acupuncture needle “to qualified practitioners of acupuncture as determined by the States” . (FDA determined that this restriction is required for the safe and effective use of an acupuncture needle .) Therefore, it is a violation of Federal law when unqualified practitioners of acupuncture, such as physical therapists, purchase, possess, or use an acupuncture needle .
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