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  • North Carolina PTs Get Decisive Dry Needling Win

    After a nearly 4-year battle, physical therapists (PTs) in North Carolina can finally claim victory in their fight to protect dry needling: last week, the state's acupuncture licensing board relented on its attempt to restrict the intervention, signing off on a settlement agreement in federal district court that acknowledges dry needling as a part of the PT scope of practice in the state. The settlement is a decisive win for APTA’s state chapter, the North Carolina Physical Therapy Association (NCPTA), as well as for APTA, which provided support for the chapter's efforts.

    The agreement effectively ends a lawsuit brought by 4 PTs and 2 patients against the North Carolina Acupuncture Licensing Board (NCALB) in October 2015. That lawsuit asserted the NCALB's efforts to prevent PTs from engaging in dry needling—efforts that included issuing "cease and desist" letters to PTs who perform dry needling and threats that they would be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor for violating federal antitrust laws.

    The lawsuit continued in court for the next 3 years, surviving the NCALB's attempts to get the case thrown out. Dry needling was also at issue in a September 2015 suit filed against the state's physical therapy licensing board by the NCALB, which sought to have a county superior court declare that dry needling is outside the scope of PT practice. That suit eventually wound up in the state's Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court's ruling that dry needling was part of PT practice in the state. The agreement reached in the federal case applies to current and future acupuncture boards, and includes a monetary settlement to the plaintiffs.

    "The Acupuncture Board finally yielded to the NCPTA's demands," said NCPTA President J. Kyle Covington, PT, DPT, PhD, in an online statement. "This tremendous victory—including the monetary settlement—sends a powerful message to those would seek to prevent our patients from receiving the treatment they need: no matter how tough the fight, no matter how long it takes, NCPTA will always stand up for our patients' access to care."

    At the national level, APTA assisted the North Carolina Chapter during the fight, as did other APTA components and individual members.

    APTA Director of State Affairs Angela Shuman says the decisive victory is a testament to both the validity of dry needling as a legitimate component of PT practice and the commitment of PTs, the North Carolina Chapter of APTA, and the association as a whole.

    "This is a major win for patients and physical therapists in North Carolina," Shuman said. "But it could not have been achieved without some amazingly hard word by the North Carolina Chapter and its members, and APTA is proud of what they have accomplished."


    • Congratulations to to the North Carolina Chapter and its members! A big win indeed... so many physical therapy patients can now benefit from the effectiveness of dry needling for so many conditions. PT's in Canada are fortunate to be able to do dry needling and even acupuncture in most provinces. There may be the formation of an APTA special interest group in dry needling soon but the first step is getting100 signatures for support. If interested, let me know and I can provide the contact info for the PT who is heading this. Len Kiroplis PT, Chair, Acupuncture Division CPA

      Posted by Len Kiroplis -> DKQaAH on 3/13/2019 8:08 AM

    • Well done for getting permission to deliver a theatrical placebo. Dry needling may release some hormones (endorphins, serotonin, melatonin) but these effects last hours, not days or weeks. To paraphrase Voltaire 'Dry needling is about entertaining the patient whilst nature takes its course. This is a victory for PTs, not patients.

      Posted by Richard Bartley on 3/13/2019 8:13 AM

    • Congrats on the victory. So did Dry needling become a recognized payable modality by insurance companies including Medicare? If so what’s the billing code used for it?

      Posted by Blerim Dibra on 3/13/2019 7:05 PM

    • What is the win here? To get paid for useless treatment it seems. no win for patients

      Posted by Jan Kuiper on 3/13/2019 7:15 PM

    • Congrats to the NCPTA and all those who were involved! The real winners are the patients and clients who will now receive this intervention. The path to dry needling is not an easy one (we just had a set back in FL) but the ability to safely and effectively utilize this technique is worth the fight!!

      Posted by Mac Innocent on 3/13/2019 7:25 PM

    • Good for you guys!!!! spread the word

      Posted by brett RUSSELL on 3/13/2019 8:29 PM

    • Congratulations!! This is a great victory!

      Posted by Marilyn Adames on 3/13/2019 8:59 PM

    • Thankyou to all who supported our cause! I am proud to be a part of the results. We were a team throughout the challenges. We had a great legal team! Thanks to our 3 Presidents:Dean McCall, David Edwards and Kyle Covington! NCPTA/APTA rocks it for all patients!

      Posted by Eileen Rodri Carter PT,DPT,MBA on 3/13/2019 9:24 PM

    • I am very pleased and proud of the efforts that the NCPTA achieved. This prove that Unity and perseverance are one of the powerful towards success. May this inspire all Chapter Nationally to continue to work hard towards unity to benefit our patients. More Power to NCPTA and APTA!

      Posted by Lyn Montero on 3/13/2019 11:23 PM

    • Those claiming that Dry Needling does not provide a real treatment effect are welcome to site their sources, and for those who state that “the win” was getting paid for useless treatment should realize that many PTs provide this intervention without charge. Dry needling provides an indisputable treatment benefit. Not unlike nearly every medical procedure performed, it is not a guarantee of the desired outcome, I sense sour grapes.

      Posted by Bill Bieker on 3/14/2019 6:12 AM

    • After working side by side with highly trained acupuncturists, as well as seeing some of the damage done by PT's, I've come to realise that events like this are not what they seem - we should leave the needling to the experts.

      Posted by James Gallegro on 3/14/2019 8:55 AM

    • Well done and congratulations NCPTA. A treatment is only useless if it is not appropriate for the patient and if it is thought of as the only thing that will get the patient better. Physical Therapy utilizes a wide variety of treatments to restore the patient to optimum function while decreasing or eliminating pain. This is now one more tool that is able to be used, (again if appropriate per case), that can achieve the goals established from the outset. Hope Florida is next in line. Cheers NC!

      Posted by Michael Rubino -> ?MY^=O on 3/15/2019 6:33 AM

    • Quite frankly, I find this "'victory" to be a debatable one and of significantly less importance than many of the more important battles we are facing and NOT winning. Why are we as physical therapists infringing upon the practice of licensed acupuncturists who are better trained for this type of intervention and generally perform it at a much more skilled, sophisticated, and appropriate level? From an ethical standpoint in particular, is it right for us to take from acupuncturists what is rightfully theirs? How would we like it if other practitioners infringed upon the practice of physical therapy? Oh yeah ... I forgot ... they already are. Massage therapists are doing posture and movement training, performing joint work, using modalities, etc. and are largely unopposed by PTs. Personal trainers are doing medical rehabilitation, soft tissue work with instruments, movement training, etc. and again, are largely unopposed by PTs. Ditto with a host of others including those who dabble in a little touchy feely bodywork, a little yoga and Pilates training, a little ad hoc posture and body mechanics training, a little improvisational ergonomics training, and a little psychobabble life coaching and have no state license in any of these areas but function as de facto licenseless and degreeless PTs without having to pay for a degree, a license, or any continuing education. THIS is where the battle should be fought and the victory obtained. We're losing bits and pieces left and right of what is the foundation of PT with nary a complaint from the APTA while battling for the dubious right to function in an area that is not rightfully ours. Is this foolish or what? And I won't even get into the battles with insurance companies that have ridden roughshod over us for years such as UnitedHealthcare. Winning battles in scope of practice does little good if we are paid progressively less and less for that practice.

      Posted by Brian Miller on 3/15/2019 9:54 PM

    • I am a patient, recently treated with dry needling for a right shoulder ailment/injury. I was very pleasantly surprised with the almost immediate relief. I am equally surprised by Jan Kuiper's comment. Jan seems angry and uninformed. In the right hands of the right PT, this treatment is the real deal! It is also NOT accupunture. It does hurt at the time of treatment. Go to #One on One PT in Charlotte for a more educated and experienced opinion.

      Posted by Daniel J Hogan on 3/18/2019 12:38 PM

    • Congratulations to the North Carolina Physical Therapists. IAAPT, the International Acupuncture Association of Physical Therapists, is the acupuncture and related needling therapies (including dry needling) sub-group of the World Confederation of Physical Therapists. We represent physical therapists/physiotherapists practicing filiform needle-related therapies to complement other physio-therapeutic treatment practices. Different countries have different legislative standards, hence worldwide many physical therapists practice acupuncture from a classical/traditional and/or western medical/biomedical and/or trigger point dry needling perspective. Our members are united in promoting needle-related education and practices, and research/evidence-based literature to complement physical therapy. We value the benefits that needling therapies can bring to enhance patient outcomes, whether from a traditional Chinese, Western medical and/or dry needling paradigm. If IAAPT can assist members of the APTA in any way, including joining IAAPT, we ask leaders of a unified dry needling special interest group within your association to please contact secretary@iaapt.wcpt.org.

      Posted by Susan Kohut on 3/21/2019 3:42 AM

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