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Cherry Creek Wellness Center Tip: What’s the Difference Between TPDN & Acupuncture?


July 13, 2016

Many patients at Cherry Creek Wellness Center often confuse Trigger Point Dry Needling, or TPDN, and acupuncture treatments. After all, both of these treatments involve the use of needles, so how different could they really be, right? Wrong! TPDN and acupuncture are vastly different. Here’s how:

First, what is TPDN?
TPDN is a pain relief treatment performed by a licensed physical therapist at Cherry Creek Wellness Center. Acupuncture-type needles are gently inserted into the skin near trigger points or knotted, tight muscles. When the needle is gently inserted, the muscle will involuntarily contract and respond with a slight twitch. Once the muscle begins to relax again, the pain that patients have experienced in that area will begin to subside. Learn more about TPDN, also called dry needling.

TPDN is often used as one part of a treatment plan along with other physical therapy exercises. Although you may feel slight soreness around the area where needles were used, most patients find that the pain they were experiencing prior to the treatment is gone or greatly reduced.

How is TPDN different from acupuncture?
Although both of these treatments use very similar tools and techniques, the truth is that they are actually quite different.  Acupuncture is considered a traditional Chinese medicine, whereas TPDN is a Western treatment that must be performed by experienced professionals, like the staff at Cherry Creek Wellness Center.

Acupuncture is also performed based on the meridian system, whereas TPDN is done on targeted muscle groups in the body. In ancient Chinese medicine, meridians were believed to be channels in the body that energy flows through. There are twelve meridians that correspond to different organs and elements such as fire, wood, and earth. Acupuncturists believe that there are certain places along these channels where the energy pools up, and these are the points where needles are inserted. Each point serves a specific function and is believed to help alleviate pain in other parts of the body—not necessarily the surrounding parts. For example, if you are experiencing lower back pain, you won’t necessarily have acupuncture needles inserted into the lower back. The needles will be used wherever the acupuncture point is that lies on the same meridian. So you see, whereas TPDN is performed on specific areas that are causing pain to the patient, acupuncture is performed based on the concept of the meridian system.

Another difference between the two practices is the ailments that they treat. At Cherry Creek Wellness Center, TPDN is used to treat a variety of ailments including headaches, neck pain, back pain, jaw pain and tight muscles. Basically, TPDN can be used to alleviate muscle pains. Acupuncture can also be performed to alleviate physical pain, however that is not all that it is believed to cure. Acupuncturists also use this practice to help with high blood pressure, fertility issues, digestive problems, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

TPDN is just one of the many treatments that is offered at Cherry Creek Wellness Center. Are you interested in learning more about our services?  Contact us today by calling 303-333-3493!