What is Dry Needling 

Dry needling is a treatment that involves a very thin needle being pushed through the skin in order to stimulate a trigger point. This form of alternative therapy is used to release tight muscle bands that are associated with trigger points, or hard “knots” within a muscle that can cause pain over a large area. Sometimes these trigger points (or even muscle spasms) can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks because there is pain every time the area is touched, and the pain can even radiate to nearby areas of the body.


Effects of Dry Needling?

1. Reduces Pain

2. Improves Movement

3. Speeds of Recovery Process

What Is Dry Needling Able to Treat? 

  • migraines

  • tension-type headaches

  • carpal tunnel

  • computer-related disorders

  • whiplash associated disorders

  • spinal dysfunction

  • pelvic pain and other urologic syndromes

  • post-herpetic neuralgia

  • complex regional pain syndrome

  • nocturnal cramps

  • phantom pain

  • tendonitis

  • disk pathology

  • joint dysfunction

This alternative therapy is also used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle, fascia and connective tissue. It reduces and restores impairments of body structure and function, leading to improved activity and participation.


Is Dry Needling Safe? 

Dry needling is appropriate for nearly all patients who do not have a significant needle phobia or other anxiety about being treated with needles. Like any type of therapy, dry needling may deliver unintended side effects, such as pain at the stop of needle insertion, muscle soreness, fatigue and bruising. In the hands of a skilled physical therapist, dry needling is a safe and effective treatment option and the patient will see benefits in range of motion and joint use right away.

It’s normal that it may take several dry needling therapy sessions before the muscle is fully functional again. This is because trigger points are located under deep layers of muscles, so it typically takes several sessions for the changes to take full effect. But patients will notice the difference right after each treatment.

Dry needling is also known to be relatively painless. Generally, the needle insertion is not felt and the local twitch response only provokes a very brief pain response, feeling more like a shock or cramping sensation. A local twitch response is a therapeutic response that serves as a sign that the needle has hit the trigger point, so it’s actually a good and desirable reaction.

Caution is warranted with younger patients; based on empirical evidence, dry needling is not recommended for children younger than 12 years of age. If a child is undergoing dry needling, parent and child’s consent is needed and the child should fully understand the procedure before treatment begins.

Dry Needling Takeaways

  • Dry needling is a common treatment technique in orthopedic manual physical therapy.

  • Dry needling involves a very thin needle being pushed through the skin in order to stimulate a trigger point that causes pain and disability.

  • During a dry needling session, the needle penetrates the trigger point, which is known when there is a local twitch response. This response suggests that the trigger point is being stimulated and there will be a therapeutic response.

  • Dry needling is a safe and effective treatment option for patients who are not afraid of needles.

  • Patients who undergo dry needling will see benefits in range of motion and joint use right away. Sometimes several sessions are necessary in order to fully eliminate the trigger point.

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