Dry Needling: Let's Make it Legal for Physical Therapists in Oregon Again
For nearly 3 years, dry needling has been not been within the scope of practice for Physical Therapists in Oregon. It is a technique that uses acupuncture needles to trigger muscles to spasm and release, and can create significant pain relief for athletes or individuals with chronic or acute pain. It's different than acupuncture because the needles go deeper into the muscle to trigger it, whereas acupuncture uses energy balance to relieve pain.
This technique has helped me personally as a dancer to relieve pain and get back on the dance floor faster. Additionally my mom, (MSPT OCS, LMT), used this technique after being properly certified. It was benefiting dozens patients and it was heartbreaking for her when it was outlawed in 2017. Why was it outlawed, you ask? Beats me.
Dry needling is not a dangerous practice. The most "dangerous" thing that could happen is a punctured lung (less than a 1% chance). Let me explain why it is less dangerous than it sounds. 1. This area is not one of the more common areas to dry needle in. 2. Through PT's additional training, they are taught how to safely avoid intruding this area and to watch closely for signs of a pneumothorax. 3. A punctured lung when caught is fully treatable and can be restored back to normal function.
Dry needling is LEGAL FOR PT'S TO PRACTICE IN OVER 30 STATES. So why is it not legal here in Oregon? Why are we preventing people from getting treatment that could help them get back to their passions and daily living activities? Simply put, the acupuncture committee within Oregon State's Medical Board believes physical therapists are "stealing" their technique and that physical therapists didn't go to school for it.
The fact is, 85% of what PT's need to know about dry needling is taught in PT school. The other 15% is taught through dry needling certification programs, the same programs that acupuncturists would need to attend to practice dry needling. Both professions need additional training to ensure the safety of their patients, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Yes, acupuncturists can perform dry needling here in Oregon if they want, but it's scarce. They tend to focus on the Chinese medicine aspect of acupuncture which does not include dry needling. It is a skill performed by very few here in Oregon, and one that so many could benefit from. There is no evidence to show that dry needling takes business away from acupuncturists (as it is a completely different treatment).
Join me by taking this to the acupuncture committee of Oregon, so that we can make this right. Medical professionals need to realize that they are in the field of helping people, not taking their health rights away.