Doctoral Reflections: Asking Questions and Acupuncture/Dry Needling Explained
I usually have a running narrative in my head about medicine, ethics, and the deep psychology of the health messages we hear and share. A big part of this Doctoral program was how the branches of medicine work together and how to navigate it as a doctor or a patient. I’ll include a few take away messages in each newsletter. Here are a couple that have been coming up.
1) Asking Questions - One of the greatest discoveries in airline safety was that empowering co-pilot and crew to question the decisions of the pilot makes everyone safer. The same is true in medicine. Asking questions, asking for more resources, et.c. makes for better decisions and better outcomes. Of course, being respectful in doing so goes a long way, and makes the relationship more fulfilling and comfortable for everyone. It is also ok to ask about someone’s training.
1) Bring a list of questions you want to have answered
2) Ask where you can find out more.
3) Frame questions according to your experience
e.g. "I have been doing this therapy for 3 months, what signs will I notice if it is working?
2) Dry Needling and Acupuncture - I am regularly asked questions about acupuncture and dry needling. To be honest, this has been a bummer of a topic for a lot of us. I love working and collaborating with P.T.’s, M.D.’s, Nurse Practitioners, D.C.’s et.c. That is a big reason why I chose this Doctorate program, to understand how to be a team player in collaborative care. It is simply no fun to have an issue come up that creates divisiveness between people with the same goal, of serving our patients. Unfortunately, lobbyists and professional organizations aren’t beholden to the ethical standards of medicine, their job is to further the profession. In Colorado, Dry Needling made it into P.T.’s state practice act using an emergency injunction, adding it 24 hours before the legislature voted on renewal. It specifies that P.T.’s need 14 hours of training to practice dry needling aka acupuncture. I’ve talked to senior P.T.’s who agree this probably wasn’t done in patients’ best interest. I shadow a family practice M.D. with an additional 800 hours of training in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, who humbly admits that her training is sufficient but still entry level.
So what is the difference? Training. Acupuncture treats patients with a variety of techniques from trigger points (Ahshi in Chinese ) to channel based approaches to neurological stimulation. Training in an accredited school of Chinese Medicine, includes a deep understanding of how each point effects the body, a deep understanding of the system of medicine that uses needles as therapy, and over 1,000 hours of hands on training within a 3 - 4,000 hour program. Dry needling, is usually a single weekend course that covers clean technique and insertion into various points.
The takeaway… be informed! As a practitioner, I am legally liable for the referrals I make. I will most certainly continue referring to Physical Therapists and a host of other providers…. Just not for acupuncture!