Dry Needling Rulings
Is Dry Needling Legal in Maryland?
- In 1984, the Maryland Board of Physical Therapy Examiners was the first physical therapy board in the US that approved dry needling by physical therapists.
- In 1993, the Maryland Board of Physical Therapy Examiners approved trigger point injections by physical therapists. Maryland is the only jurisdiction in the US allowing physical therapists to use trigger point injections.
- In 2009, the Maryland Acupuncture Board approached the Board of Physical Therapy Examiners questioning the PT Board’s decision to allow dry needling by PTs. The PT Board invited Dr, Jan Dommerholt to present a lecture of dry needling to the combined Acupuncture and PT Boards. Although the members of the Acupuncture Board had only a few questions following the presentation, a few months later, the Acupuncture Board requested a legal opinion of the Maryland Attorney General. In August 2010, the Attorney General issued his Opinion supporting dry needling by physical therapists. The Attorney General did require the PT Board to develop regulations for dry needling.
- On March 10, 2015, Maryland House Bill HB 979 was withdrawn. HB 979 and Senate Bill 580 would require that PTs receive education & training specific to dry needling that are equal to the requirement for physicians who perform the entire scope of acupuncture practice – at least 200 hours! It would also require that such education and training standards for physical therapists be formulated in conjunction with acupuncturists. Many physical therapists, physicians and patients joined the APTA of Maryland for the Senate Committee hearing in spite of a major snowstorm.
- Effective October 1, 2018, the Maryland Board requires 40 hours of theoretical training and 40 hours of practical, clinical training. The 40 hours of theoretical education must be done either “in person at a face-to-face session; or in real time through electronic means that allow for simultaneous interaction between the instructor and the participants”.
- According to the new regulations, a physical therapist is not allowed to use DN at all until completion of 80 hours of education. Jan Dommerholt, President of Myopain Seminars, has expressed to the Board that by not allowing a PT to use DN after the first course for muscles that were taught in the course, the Board may inadvertently have increased the potential of risk of injury. Many PTs take 2-3 years before they can complete 80 hours of continuing education in DN, which means that what a PT learned in the first course is no longer fresh in memory by the time that PT attends the final course. After 22 years of teaching DN courses all over the world, we have learned that allowing PTs to use DN immediately after the first DN course makes for safer DN practice.
- According to the new regulations, “a physical therapist shall have practiced physical therapy for at least 2 years before performing dry needling in the State.” We would like to emphasize that it is permitted to attend DN courses during the two-year period since graduating from PT school.