Dry needling is a term used by Physiotherapist or Chiropractor or Osteopath, or even a Massage Therapist. to describe a technique for muscle stimulation using a needle. It is called dry needling because nothing is injected into the body with the needle. The tool used for dry needling and Acupuncture is the same. Both practices use acupuncture needles, which are single use solid filiform needles.
Where dry needling and acupuncture differ is the technique and theory for how and where the needles are placed. Dry needling is focused on using strong stimulation on the muscles to get them to release. Acupuncture, on the other hand, does not use strong stimulation and it is based on channel theory and using points to heal the body naturally.
The difference in the experience for the patient will be a lot different between these two different forms of treatment. Acupuncture is not painful at all, while dry needling can be.
Another key difference between dry needling and acupuncture is the amount of training required to administer each of these forms of treatment. Acupuncture requires significantly more training. In Australia, being an acupuncturist requires a minimum a 4 year Chinese medicine degree, and hundreds of hours of both classroom training and clinical practice experience. Dry needling, on the other hand, only requires minimal training.