Dry needling is a small aspect of Chinese acupuncture therapy.
In Chinese Medicine it is also known as "Ah Shi " needling, or painful point needling (Trigger point therapy).
Nowadays there are practitioners of Dry Needling who are not acupuncturists. My studies saw me complete 4 years of full time studies to practice acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine.
In today's modern times we can see people complete a short course (maybe one to two weeks) in how to put acupuncture needles into painful "trigger points" to relieve pain and consequently call themselves Dry Needling practitioners.
However properly qualified acupuncturists practice not only genuine acupuncture in its uncompromised form but also proper dry needling in the way it is meant to be practiced.
Trigger points are painful spots or knotty areas which may cause pain, reduced mobility or tightness. They may be the result of local trauma but can be the result of a problem further away from the site.
These can be the result of an accident, trauma or repetitive strain. After simple tests and palpation a treatment regime can be adopted and appropriate Ah Shi points (dry needling points) may be used in conjunction with appropriate extra acupuncture points if necessary.
A properly qualified practitioner will use local points and often combine distal points to make the acupuncture more effective.
Dry needling can also go under the guise of myofascial therapy as evidence has been seen to support trigger point dry needling as an effective treatment therapy for myofascial pain (myofascia being the layer of dense, tough tissue which covers muscles and bones).