I don't care if chiropractors or physical therapists use dry-needling. I know a lot of acupuncturists care a great deal, but I think it's a manufactured distraction. It's keeping the medical community divided against itself and preventing us from dealing with the real problem in healthcare, which is the insurance conglomerates' absolute power over everything. Some people seem to put chiropractors and physical therapists are on the other side of a line that separates "alternative" from "Western" or "standard" care, and assume anything that is given to them is taken away from us by definition. If insurance companies decided to pay for "dry-needling" but not "acupuncture," the problem is not that someone is performing "dry-needling." The problem is that insurance companies are not paying for the healthcare that patients need. We need to put our resources toward the bigger picture, which is recognition by the medical establishment that acupuncture is effective, safe, and relatively very cheap.
If it's about getting paid, we should be fighting the insurance companies. If it's about scope of practice, we should be fighting for expansion of our scope of practice, not limitation of someone else's. We are trained to interpret lab tests, why can't we order them? We are trained to do some kinds of structural adjustments, why can't we do them? Why don't some acupuncture malpractice insurance policies cover direct moxa, when it's a legal part of our scope of practice? These are more important to our ability to practice than whether or not someone else is using the same kind of needles.
From a purely cynical, self-serving perspective, chiropractors often do a better job navigating the nightmare labyrinth of the medical system than we do, and they have a professional organization with much more money than ours. If we petition to prevent them from using needles, what do we expect them to do when we want to use structural manipulation? We are contributing to the perception that there's only so much medicine to go around. Why are we not fighting together for everyone's scope of practice?
The main argument I've seen against letting chiropractors or physical therapists use acupuncture needles is that they aren't trained correctly and it's not safe. I agree that the training looks fairly minimal, but as far as I can tell nobody is claiming that what they're doing is Chinese medicine. They are using needles to stimulate muscle-motor points or trigger points, which has nothing to do with the acupuncture channel system or internal organ systems. The only thing they need to do to be safe is avoid puncturing someone's lung, and it doesn't take very long to learn where the lungs are.
I'm willing to argue that the majority of medical practitioners, of any modality, care about their patients and want them to get better. I'm sure there are a few who just want to make money from Pfizer, but those are the exception. I don't assume that chiropractors or PTs who use acupuncture needles are going to hurt people. If a chiropractor uses acupuncture needles to help someone's back pain, that's another person who perceives acupuncture as helpful. Next time they have a medical problem, they may be more likely to go to an acupuncturist than before. Holistic, patient-focused health care means practitioners work together with the best interest of the patient in mind. They don't squabble over technicalities.
Acupuncturists are a small, under-funded group of mostly introverts with no political power. If we want acupuncture to be part of standard medical care (which I do, because – again – it is safe and effective, and more people getting acupuncture means fewer people getting sick), we need to work with other practitioners. I understand that many people are afraid if physical therapists can use acupuncture needles then people will stop coming to acupuncturists. It's a red herring, though. Are any chiropractors going to go out of business if we get to do adjustments? Not likely, and we're not going anywhere, either.
The only way we're going to fix the bigger problems is to stop fighting the wrong people.