In this November 30, 2013 photo, 17-year-old professional freeskier Torin Yater-Wallace gives the thumbs-down sign from his hospital bed at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, Colorado, while recovering from surgery for a traumatic pneumothorax (an accumulation of air in the pleural cavity resulting from blunt or penetrating chest injury and causing lung collapse) that he suffered after a physical therapist punctured his right lung with an acupuncture needle. (Photo: @TorinWallace)


Medicare Fraud Relating to Dry Needling

Dry needling is acupuncture [1], which is not a covered service under Medicare [2].

The use of an acupuncture needle with or without the passage of electric current through the acupuncture needle is not a covered service under Medicare [2].

It is a violation of Federal law when physical therapists or other providers submit a claim for payment to Medicare for dry needling disguised, for example, as electrical stimulation (Current Procedural Terminology [CPT] code 97032), therapeutic exercises (CPT code 97110), neuromuscular reeducation (CPT code 97112), or manual therapy (CPT code 97140) [3].

To report allegations of Medicare fraud relating to dry needling, call the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG) at 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477). TTY users can call 1-800-377-4950.


  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. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Medicare & You. Baltimore (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; 2017 Nov.

  3. See 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729–3733.