Dry Needling wins again – it receives “the greatest threat to the profession” practitioner’s choice award.
In recent years, Acupuncturists have devoted more resources to this issue than to any other.
A (fairly accurate) review of legal and regulatory actions shows that we’re not having much success. (Here’s another review, APTA’s Dry Needling Resource Paper.)
Even our wins have been temporary. For example –
– the Georgia Acupuncture Board added language stating that Dry Needling is acupuncture. The PT’s then added Dry Needling to their scope via legislation. (Could Georgia PT’s now advertise they’re doing acupuncture?)
– the October 2014 ruling in Washington State against dry needling was widely celebrated. Now the PT’s have introduced bills which would add Dry Needling to their scope. With almost 5,000 PT’s in the state, and about 1,100 LAcs, it’s likely they’ll eventually succeed.
We say the PT’s:
- are stealing our medicine! (But we don’t own it.)
- are illegally expanding their scope. (The majority of states have ruled it is in the PT scope. Modifications to scope are common in health care.)
- are using Regulation to do what should be done Legislatively. (Scope clarification is often done via Regulation, which gives the public and other professionals the opportunity to weigh in and is preferable to politically driven legislative action. The public is protected through regulation. The PT’s have been successful in passing Legislation allowing dry needling.)
- are pursuing this because their own techniques don’t work. (Even if true, 1) why does that matter, and 2) does the argument apply to us when we add techniques lasers, essential oils, e-stim, herbs – to our scope?)
- can’t possibly know enough to do this technique safely. (Many clearly do.)
- can’t possibly be providing good treatments. (Their patients disagree.)
- wrongly say that dry needling isn’t acupuncture. (Is it better if they say it is? Is there a legal reason our definition should prevail?)
- make the public fear acupuncture. (Insisting this technique is acupuncture will contribute to the problem. Don’t we have the same problem when we use the technique?)
- should use hypodermic needles. (Does that show concern for public safety?)
We can continue the fight to stop dry needling – getting caught in the cycle of suit (complaint) (never-mind the SCOTUS ruling) and counter-suit (NC PT lawsuit). We can fight state by state, and attack any Acupuncturist who suggests anything other than “the PT’s must be stopped.” We can keep insisting that if we just devote more resources and fight harder, we’ll win.
Or, we can learn from our history and the history of all of the other professions that have fought to maintain a monopoly on technique or turf.
We could be fighting for strong regulations. Mandated adverse effect reporting, strict definitions of what dry needling is and what it isn’t (other than whether or not it is acupuncture), requiring direct supervision for all clinical hours, requiring PT’s to post their hours of training, requiring registration with the PT Board, requiring physician referral for dry needling – all of these are possible.
A PR campaign promoting acupuncture and helping the public find an Acupuncturist? That’s possible too. Supporting ease of licensure so that people in every state can find an LAc? We can work for that. Support for new practitioners so that the public can actually find an Acupuncturist? That’s a great goal. Building collaborative relationships with other professionals who want to decrease pain and suffering? That would serve everyone.
Putting our energy into stopping dry needling? Not so much. It’s our obsession with stopping dry needling that is the greatest threat to the profession.