I was originally intending this post to promote trigger point dry-needling (TrP DN) as an effective treatment for chronic pain. Plan B. On Tuesday November 19th there will be a hastily arranged tribunal to pass revisions to the Massachusetts Acupuncture laws. The new bill, H.2051, Section 7, says “The use of needles on trigger points, Ashi points, and/or for intramuscular needling for the treatment of myofascial pain will be considered the practice of acupuncture.” This provision would deny consumers from the right to receive trigger point deactivation by dry needling from MDs, PAs, PTs, RNs, DOs, DDSs, & DCs. Not right!
In the four years of training to become a licensed acupuncturist students learn very comprehensive and effective east-west approaches to health that includes the use of solid filament needles. Trigger points lie within muscles and can be treated manually and with solid filament needs. Many clinicians (listed above), not just acupuncturists, have extensive training on the musculoskeletal system and treat myofascial pain. Bill H.2051, Section 7 seems to be about ownership of the needle and restraint of trade to other health professionals.
Wet and Dry Needling
Dr. Travell used trigger point injections for pain control since the 1940’s. A less painful needling method has been developed using solid filament needles and is mostly used by physical therapists. PTs really do know their muscles and any training program likeMyopain Seminars emphasizes precise needle location to avoid adverse effects. Sarah Brady and Jan Dommerholt et al have published a study on the adverse effects of Dry Needling. Bruising, bleeding and pain during treatment are the three most common adverse effects. I had all three of these during my acupuncture session last Saturday. (Now I feel great.)
Not the Odd Couple
There are so many people suffering musculoskeletal pain out there that need our help. Whether it be manual therapy, dry needling, acupuncture, biofeedback, or anything else, the important thing is that it gets decent results and causes no harm. Rule number one in TrP DN: do not puncture the lung. Well-trained PTs are legally able to provide dry-needling of trigger points in 37 states, but not yet in Massachusetts. With the right training there should be no reason for this not to happen soon. 360 NMT has successfully integrated both modalities under the same roof.
To Oppose this Bill
Get in touch with your health representative by phone today. Mention to them that this may be a potential ‘restraint of trade’ by suitably qualified health professionals who should be able to safely and effectively use solid filament needles to address trigger points. That action could be followed up by sending letters. There’s still plenty of time for this.