Trigger Point Dry Needling — develop a way to harvest Liver Yang rising, bring the topic up in a crowd of acupuncturists, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. I’ll save my full critique of our current response for another day. Today I will paint a picture of what could have been, and could still be, if we were to respond to this issue with healthy Wood.
Imagine, if the community’s response to the topic of dry needling went like this —
- Similar to Mark Seems’ response, described in his 1993 book A New American Acupuncture, we recognized that the independent identification of types of physical dysfunction by different modalities can provide fruitful opportunities for integrated medicine.
- We made sure that all acupuncture students and practitioners had the opportunity to develop expertise in the needle techniques, point identification, and point selection that is necessary to effectively release stagnation at A Shi points.
- Our discussions with Physical Therapists and other professionals were respectful, making clear that we understood their interest in serving their clients. (Just as ours is when we explore our own scope of practice, right?)
- We had, in advance of hearings and public statements, carefully explored the consequences of insisting that this technique be described as acupuncture. Might it be easier for the public to understand differences in techniques and training if PT’s and others were encouraged to use distinct terminology? Could our insistence that it be called acupuncture actually set the stage for the slippery slope that we fear?
- We honestly and forthrightly identified the amount and type of training we considered sufficient to use this technique. (For instance, if we practice in a state that allows medical extenders, and if we had a spouse who was also a PT assisting in our office, what would be need to teach them before we felt they could use this technique? How long would it take?)
- We were consistent in our arguments — for instance, expressing concern over the pain this technique can cause, while later suggesting that we could accept a situation in which the PT’s used a syringe to stimulate the point is not consistent. Likewise, arguing that we already do this technique undercuts the discomfort argument. Another example — we have often argued that patients should have the right to choose their providers, yet here we have argued that patients must be protected from the risk of a poor choice.
- We proactively educated the public about our training and experience. (No need to denigrate the training of others in the process.)
- We explored employment opportunities at PT offices — illustrating how the hiring of LAcs would enable the PT to avoid altering their practice flow or having to deal with related insurance and paperwork hassles. This would provide employment opportunities for acupuncturists and give clients convenient access to TPDN and full acupuncture treatments.
- All providers of TPDN knew the location of LAcs in the area and referral relationships were encouraged as appropriate.
- We offered appropriate training to PT’s, DC’s, and others interested and legally able to use this technique in our jurisdiction, building relationships of mutual respect while addressing our concerns about existing training, and, adding a source of revenue for our schools and teachers.
- We educated ourselves about the regulatory process, making sure that every LAc understands that our regulatory boards regulate people (LAcs) not techniques, and not the activities of other professions.
This list could be longer, but I bet you get the point. Without resorting to the old canard about the Chinese character for crisis, I will say that this whole TPDN “situation” had (and in some cases still has) the potential to be a huge opportunity for us. Instead, it continues to suck up a lot of time and energy and burn rather than build bridges. What a shame. We have indeed turned potential opportunity into a dangerous crisis.