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What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves inserting very fine needles to stimulate changes in the body's function by improving communication between the different body systems.  The fundamental belief behind acupuncture is that blocked Qi (pronounced "chi") can contribute to conditions and symptoms like pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, allergies, anxiety, and more.

A 2012 study found that acupuncture was effective in relieving migraine headaches – just as effective as other treatments, including medication. 

Acupuncture has countless scientific articles supporting its use for a variety of issues. The data clearly favours acupuncture for the management of chronic pain in a non-addictive and safe manner.

To practice Acupuncture, a person needs to complete a University Bachelor degree in Acupuncture or Chinese Medicine, which takes 3 to 4 years and includes a minimum of 1000 hours of supervised clinical practice. They also need to be registered to practice Acupuncture with The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). A registered acupuncturist is allowed to practice Dry Needling, by default of their extensive training. 

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is based on the ancient art of ASHI acupuncture, which is a funny name for needling painful acupuncture points.  Dry needling is a treatment centered on relieving muscular pain specifically.  The fine needles are placed in “trigger points” in muscle or tissue. These are areas of knotted muscle tissue where there is stiffness, to relief pain. 

To practice Dry Needling, a person trained as a Physiotherapist or a Human Movement Therapist needs to complete a course (the course is not necessarily registered with the Australian Physiotherapist Association, but is recommended by APA to choose such a course). The course takes approximately 30 hours and does not have a minimum number of supervised clinical practice requirement. 

Make sure your practitioner is registered

Many practitioners in Australia attempt to differentiate dry needling from acupuncture as it allows them to get around the need to be a registered practitioner. But in truth dry needling is a form of acupuncture. Sadly this also means that there is no minimum level of training required to practice Dry Needling. There is evidence that adequate training improves safety in practice, which makes sense.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are generally considered safe, when practised by a well trained, qualified and registered practitioner.  However, as with all medical and allied health treatments, there are risks involved, the better trained the more these risks may be reduced. But no therapy is risk free.


At Supple Clinic, Dr. Brendon Supple, has over 18 years of experience in practising Acupuncture, having been University trained (not college or private organisation trained) and completed his practical clinical placements in China Eastern Medicine hospitals. 

Changes to Australian Laws in the last 10 years, mean that only Registered Practitioners can practice acupuncture, so make sure your practitioner is registered. 

Most private health funds provide a rebate for acupuncture services. In some situations Workers compensation and Motor Vehicle Insurances are able to be billed for acupuncture.

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