Our mobile service offers dry needling. This practice has been growing in popularity and is often preformed by physical therapists. Each state has different requirements and some states don't even allow it. For example, Arizona requires a 2 or 3 day course for a physical therapists to be qualified in dry needling. The philosophy behind dry needling is that needles are inserted into sore joints or muscles to stimulate an immune and thus healing response. In essence, they "micro-traumatize" the area to induce the healing cascade.
How does it differ from acupuncture? The original philosophy of acupuncture involves using needles along energy channels or "meridians" to restore balance within the body. This applied to: pain, emotional well-being, hormone balance, digestive problems, fertility, injury repair, inflammation, head aches, enhancing sports performance and improve endurance. A licensed acupuncturist requires usually 4 years of training and has to go through national board certification exams. So among all of the roles that a good acupuncturist plays in regards to health improvement and injury healing, dry needling is one of the many techniques that they employ.
The truth is that "dry-needling" was a term invented by the Physical Therapy industry to bypass the rigorous national educational and certification requirements required by the acupuncture industry. Popularity of dry needling has expanded because it is often included under "physical therapy" covered by most insurance companies.