Assn. of Acupuncture v. Bd. of Chiropractic Examiners

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: 01-23-2014
  • Case #: A148924
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Tookey, J. for the Court; Schuman, P.J.; and Duncan, J.

The State Board of Chiropractic Examiners is limited to making rules that fall within the definition of the practice of "chiropractic" as defined by ORS 684.010(2). Rules made outside the scope of that authority will be found invalid.

The Oregon Association of Acupuncture (Association) challenged the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners (Board) adoption of OAR 811-015-0036, authorizing chiropractic physicians to perform “dry needling.” The Board's rule making authority is limited to the “chiropractic” practice, as defined by statute. The Association argued that the rule authorized a method not encompassed within the “chiropractic” practice, as defined by ORS 684.010(2). The Board argued that dry needling is a form of “physiotherapy," which is included in the definition of "chiropractic" under the statute. The issue for the Court was whether dry needling fell within the definition of “chiropractic” as a form of “physiotherapy.” After considering relevant definitions, the Court determined that “physiotherapy” uses “natural forces” similar to “light, heat, air, water, and exercise.” Next, the Court determined that dry needling is “the insertion of a needle, without medication, into the tissue surrounding or separating the muscle within an identified, sensitive area, to relieve pain or improve function.” The Court concluded that dry needling is not a form of physiotherapy because it involves insertion of a man-made object, a needle, into a person's skin, and does not include 'natural forces" as described above. Thus, dry needling does not fall within the chiropractic practice and the challenged rule exceeded the Board’s statutory authority. OAR 811-015-0036 held invalid.

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