“Dry needling” is highly controversial since it involves the insertion of FDA-regulated acupuncture needles through the skin and into acupuncture points, which are located in muscles or connective tissue, for therapeutic purposes by physical therapists or chiropractors who can have as little as a weekend of training in acupuncture. Those practicing “dry needling” claim that they are not practicing “acupuncture” and, therefore, are not required to comply with the strict state safety, training, and licensing requirements that apply to the practice of acupuncture.

There have been a number of high-profile injuries in recent years where physical therapists or chiropractors have punctured the lungs of their patients upon incorrectly inserting acupuncture needles. Courts in Washington and Oregon have permanently enjoined physical therapists and chiropractors, respectively, from practicing “dry needling” by finding it was outside their legal scopes of practice. In February, the Orange County Superior Court granted a temporary restraining order against several out-of-state companies and their owners after plans surfaced that they intended to insert acupuncture needles and distribute acupuncture needle samples at a physical therapy conference in Anaheim, California.

Legislative Update - "Dry Needling"