Acupuncture works and the physical therapists know that. In the US, PTs are forbidden to practice acupuncture so they have come up with a clever way to circumvent the regulations. In many states, PTs can now practice “dry needling”, which is to insert acupuncture needles into “trigger points”. Because the needles are solid and not used to inject anything, they are called “dry needles”. PTs do not formally acknowledge that “dry needling” is acupuncture because they say they do not follow the acupuncture theories such as meridian or acupoints. If you talk to PTs who practice dry needling in private, however, many would say that they are the same.
Since the needles can help many patients better than traditional physical therapy, PTs in states that forbidding PTs from practicing “dry needling” are have lobbied hard to have the rules changed and they have gone to court to challenge the rules. And acupuncturists are fighting to protect their scope of practice. Florida is one of the battlefield states.
“Dry needles” and Florida Law
On Monday, January 28, 2019, a Florida Administrative Law Judge, Lawrence P. Stevenson, issued an order rejecting a proposed rule by the Florida Board of Physical Therapy that set minimum standards for physical therapists to use dry needling. Stevenson said the proposal exceeded the Board of Physical Therapy’s “grant of rulemaking authority because it would expand the scope of physical therapy practice, not merely establish a standard of practice.”
Stevenson said that “dry needling meets the definition of acupuncture in Florida law because it involves the insertion of acupuncture needles” into specific areas of the body. He noted that the law generally bans physical therapists from performing acupuncture, allowing it only when “no penetration of the skin occurs.”
What does Dr. Guan think?
My take on this: let PTs do what they do best and acupuncturists do what they do best. Neither have the training the others have in their specific field. It is for the benefit of the patients. If patients need both treatments, they can go to clinics that provide both. Or better, they can find clinicians like me who practices both physical therapy and acupuncture in Gainesville and has intensive trainings in both fields.
More about Guan Physical Therapy & Acupuncture
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