State Board Allows Controversial Acupuncture Treatment To Continue

October 22, 2013

Some Arizona health care providers can continue providing patients with an acupuncture method known as “dry needling.” A state board voted Tuesday to allow physical therapists to provide the treatment even though some experts said they do not have enough training.

Licensed acupuncturists said they are angry with the state board of physical therapy after it allowed physical therapists to give patients dry needling treatments. That is a form of acupuncture where three inch long needles are pushed beneath the surface of a patient’s skin to jump start natural healing in the body. 

Lloyd Wright is with the Arizona Acupuncture Safety Board, and he said physical therapists are required only to get 16 hours of dry needle training, and that is not good for patients.

“They could puncture a lung, they could puncture an organ, they could puncture a vessel. Obviously a lung puncture, an organ puncture, could be a worse case scenario which is the need to visit a hospital emergency room and have the lung reinflated," Wright said.

Wright said licensed acupuncturists must complete 1,800 hours of training, but the director of the state board said the treatment falls within the “scope of care” of physical therapists, and the panel may consider additional education requirements for the procedure in the future.