Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Dry Needling

Every year CPT publishes new codes with which coding professionals must become familiar.  In this edition of Spotlight on CPT, two codes that were new for 2020 will be discussed.  They are 20560 and 20561 for needle insertion(s) without injection(s).

I’ll confess that I had to do some research to see why a code was needed for needle insertions if no injection was being done, and that’s how I became aware of a procedure called dry needling.  In order to get a picture of dry needling, think acupuncture.  Now, it is not exactly the same, with the main difference being that during a dry needling procedure the needles are not left in for very long in contrast to acupuncture where the needles are left in anywhere from 20-25 minutes.  However, the goal is the same which is pain relief.

Dry needling is performed by physical therapists with filiform needles which are very fine and similar to what is used in acupuncture.  These stainless-steel needles are short and inserted in myofascial trigger points to stimulate muscles and relieve pain.  Therapists may use a pecking method, rapid in and out movement with the needles, to stimulate the muscle or tissue. 

How does this help relieve pain?  Well, trigger points which are muscle contractures or bands can be disrupted by this process reducing the trigger point and even increasing blood flow to the area. 

These codes are structured similarly to the codes for trigger point injections with code 20560 for needle insertion(s) into one or two muscles and code 20561 for three or more muscles.   

The procedure may not be covered by insurance, but is gaining in popularity.  And now, we have CPT codes to report those instances when it is performed. 

Now, light has been shed on dry needling.


About the Author 
Dianna Foley, RHIA, CHPS, CCS  is OHIMA's Coding Education Coordinator. Dianna has been an HIM professional for 20 years. She progressed through the ranks of coder, department supervisor, and department director, to her current role as a coding consultant. 

She recently served as the program director for Medical Coding and HIT at Eastern Gateway Community College. Dianna earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Cincinnati subsequently achieving her RHIA, CHPS, and CCS certifications. She is an AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer and a a presenter at regional HIM meetings and the OHIMA Annual Meeting.