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In November 2013, 17-year-old Torin Yater-Wallace suffered a penetrating right lung injury related to dry needling performed by a physical therapist. The penetrating right lung injury resulted in a traumatic pneumothorax (an accumulation of air in the pleural cavity resulting from blunt or penetrating chest injury and causing lung collapse). He was treated for the traumatic pneumothorax at the emergency department of the St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, Colorado, and was admitted to that hospital on the same day. The traumatic pneumothorax required medical and surgical intervention. He was hospitalized for five days. (Photo: @TorinWallace)

 
 
 

Top 3 Facts You REALLY Need to Know about Dry Needling

PDF Version [PDF - 201 KB] (Updated on March 1, 2019)

1. Dry needling is acupuncture.

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 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 [1].

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 [1].

2. Dry needling is unsafe when performed by unqualified practitioners of acupuncture, such as physical therapists.

As exposed by the Dry Needling Adverse Event Tracking System (DNAETS) map, dry needling is unsafe when performed by unqualified practitioners of acupuncture, such as physical therapists.

Dry Needling Adverse Event Tracking System (DNAETS) Map

To see some of the serious adverse events related to dry needling performed by unqualified practitioners of acupuncture, such as physical therapists, click on the red-colored states in the DNAETS map below. The DNAETS map was updated on March 1, 2019.

 
 
 
 

To report a serious adverse event related to dry needling performed by an unqualified practitioner of acupuncture, such as a physical therapist, 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.

3. It is a violation of Federal law when an acupuncture needle is purchased, possessed, or used by unqualified practitioners of acupuncture, such as physical therapists.

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)) [15].

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restricted the sale, distribution, and use of an acupuncture needle “to prescription use” [16]. In addition, FDA further restricted the sale, distribution, and use of an acupuncture needle “to qualified practitioners of acupuncture as determined by the States” [17]. (FDA determined that this restriction is required for the safe and effective use of an acupuncture needle [16].) Therefore, it is a violation of Federal law when an acupuncture needle is purchased, possessed, or used by unqualified practitioners of acupuncture, such as physical therapists [18].

References

  1. Yellow Emperor’s inner classic (traditional Chinese: 黃帝內經; pinyin: Huáng Dì nèi jīng). (China); compiled in the first century BCE.

  2. The national encyclopaedia: a dictionary of universal knowledge. Library ed. London (United Kingdom): William Mackenzie; 1876.

  3. Davidson T. Chambers’s twentieth century dictionary of the English language: pronouncing, explanatory, etymological, with compound phrases, technical terms in use in the arts and sciences, colloquialisms, full appendices, and copiously illustrated. London (United Kingdom): W. and R. Chambers; 1903.

  4. Neal E. Introduction to Neijing classical acupuncture Part I: history and basic principles. J Chin Med. 2012;(100):5–14.

  5. Neal E. Introduction to Neijing classical acupuncture Part II: clinical theory. J Chin Med. 2013;(102):20–33.

  6. Neal E. Introduction to Neijing classical acupuncture Part III: clinical therapeutics. J Chin Med. 2014;(104):5–23.

  7. Ban B, Ban G, Ban Z. Book of Han (traditional Chinese: 漢書; pinyin: Hàn shū). (China); 111.

  8. Zhu J. Drawings of Ou Xi Fan’s five viscera (traditional Chinese: 歐希范五臟圖; pinyin: Ōu Xī Fàn wǔ zàng tú). (China); 1041–1048.

  9. Yang J. Drawings for preserving the truth (traditional Chinese: 存真圖; pinyin: Cún zhēn tú). (China); 1102–1106.

  10. Kendall DE. Dao of Chinese medicine: understanding an ancient healing art. New York (NY): Oxford University Press; 2002.

  11. Wang JY. On the nature of channels. Robertson JD, translator, editor. Lantern. 2010;7(3):4–14.

  12. Fung PCW. Plausible biomedical consequences of acupuncture applied at sites characteristic of acupoints in the connective-tissue-interstitial-fluid system. In: Chen LL, Cheng TO, editors. Acupuncture in modern medicine. Rijeka (Croatia): IntechOpen; 2013. p. 95–131.

  13. Schnorrenberger CC. Anatomical roots of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Schweiz Z Ganzheitsmed. 2013;25(2):110–118.

  14. Shaw V, McLennan AK. Was acupuncture developed by Han Dynasty Chinese anatomists? Anat Rec. 2016;299(5):643–659.

  15. See 21 U.S.C. § 360j(e); 21 CFR § 807.3(i); 21 CFR § 880.5580(b)(1); 21 CFR § 801.109; see also 61 Fed.Reg. 64616 (Dec. 6, 1996).

  16. See 61 Fed.Reg. 64616 (Dec. 6, 1996); see also 21 U.S.C. § 360j(e); 21 CFR § 807.3(i); 21 CFR § 880.5580(b)(1); 21 CFR § 801.109.

  17. See 61 Fed.Reg. 64616 (Dec. 6, 1996) (emphasis added); see also 21 U.S.C. § 360j(e); 21 CFR § 807.3(i); 21 CFR § 880.5580(b)(1); 21 CFR § 801.109.

  18. See 21 U.S.C. §§ 331(a)–(c), (g), and (k); 21 U.S.C. §§ 352(q) and (r).