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Legislation to Clarify Training, Spell Out Definition of ‘Dry Needling’ Treatment Passes the Senate

TRENTON – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou that would allow certain physical therapists to perform “dry needling” as intervention treatment on patients only if proper physician supervision and training requirements are met.


“While dry needling has proved to be a popular and effective therapy for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain, we need to make sure that those added professionals delivering this treatment are adequately trained and licensed,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic).


The legislation, S-867, would define dry needling as a physical intervention that uses a dry, filiform needle, without medication or other deliverable, to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying muscular tissue, connective tissues, or myofascial trigger points for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments. “Dry needling” would not mean the stimulation of auricular or distal points or the practice of acupuncture.


“This bill sets out uniform requirements needed for individuals, including physical therapists, to be able to practice dry needling, and also establishes a continuing education protocol and competency program to make sure they remain qualified to pass on that treatment to patients.”


Under the legislation, physical therapists able to perform dry needling may do so only after communicating with the physician who ordered, prescribed, or referred the patient to physical therapy. The bill would also require a physical therapist to obtain written informed consent from each patient prior to the provision of dry needling.


In addition, the bill would establish a dry needling continuing education and competency program that provides a minimum of 40 hours of in-person academic instruction and is completed in no more than two years.


The bill cleared Senate by a vote of 29-3.