Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 83–90 | Cite as

Evidence and expert opinions: Dry needling versus acupuncture (II)

The American Alliance for Professional Acupuncture Safety (AAPAS) White Paper 2016
  • Arthur Yin FanEmail author
  • Jun Xu
  • Yong-ming Li
Hot Topic


In the United States and other Western countries, dry needling has been a topic in academic and legal fields. This White Paper is to provide the authoritative information of dry needling versus acupuncture to academic scholars, healthcare professionals, administrators, policymakers, and the general public by providing the authoritative evidence and expertise regarding critical issues of dry needling and reaching a consensus. We conclude that Dr. Travell, Dr. Gunn, Dr. Baldry and others who have promoted dry needling by simply rebranding (1) acupuncture as dry needling and (2) acupuncture points as trigger points (dry needling points). Dry needling simply using English biomedical terms (especially using "fascia" hypothesis) in replace of their equivalent Chinese medical terms. Dry needling is an over-simplified version of acupuncture derived from traditional Chinese acupuncture except for emphasis on biomedical language when treating neuromuscularskeletal pain (dry needling promoters redefined it as "myofascial pain"). Trigger points belong to the category of Ashi acupuncture points in traditional Chinese acupuncture, and they are not a new discovery. By applying acupuncture points, dry needling is actually trigger point acupuncture, an invasive therapy (a surgical procedure) instead of manual therapy. Dr. Travell admitted to the general public that dry needling is acupuncture, and acupuncture professionals practice dry needling as acupuncture therapy and there are several criteria in acupuncture profession to locate trigger points as acupuncture points. Among acupuncture schools, dry needling practitioners emphasize acupuncture's local responses while other acupuncturists pay attention to the responses of both local, distal, and whole body responses. For patients' safety, dry needling practitioners should meet standards required for licensed acupuncturists and physicians.


dry needling acupuncture trigger points acupuncture points invasive therapy evidence expertise consensus 


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This White Paper reflects the official view of AAPAS. The authors would like to thank Drs. JIN Guan-yuan, Jerome Jiang, YANG Guan-hu, WANG Shao-bai and WANG Xiao-ping for the valuable discussions and assistance during the drafting process.


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Copyright information

© Chinese Association of the Integration of Traditional and Western Medicine and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The American Alliance for Professional Acupuncture SafetyGreenwichUSA
  2. 2.American Traditional Chinese Medicine AssociationViennaUSA
  3. 3.American Acupuncture Association of Greater New YorkNew YorkUSA

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