The term "dry needling" describes the therapeutic needling of hyper-irritable areas or palpable nodules in muscle fascia commonly known as trigger points (TrPs) to alleviate pain and discomfort, and effectuate other beneficial changes in muscle tissue. Sometime called "myofascial trigger point dry needling" or "intramuscular manual therapy", "dry needling" refers to the use of both hallowed (hypodermic) needles and solid filiform acupuncture needles. However, filiform acupuncture needles are most commonly used for their superior control, accuracy, efficacy, and ability to minimize procedural pain from needling.
The practice of "dry needling" has become a hotly debated topic in education and legislation, particularly in the United States. There is general agreement amongst those in the acupuncture community, including medical doctors (MDs) and osteopaths (DO) that are trained and certified to practice acupuncture, that dry needling, as is commonly used in the treatment of musculoskeletal problems, is a type of acupuncture that falls within the scope of Western Medical Acupuncture. Although acupuncturists and non-acupuncture professionals trained and certified in acupuncture view "dry needling" as being distinct from Traditional Acupuncture, it nevertheless is considered a subcategory of Western Medical Acupuncture. However other non-acupuncture professionals, namely physical therapists, chiropractors, and nurses, have claimed the right to practice "dry needling" as a practice and technique distinct from acupuncture, with minimal education, training, and oversight.