Dry needling is often utilized alongside other therapies like manual therapy and exercise and can effectively treat various conditions including joint problems, tendinitis, headaches, and even pelvic pain. However, certain individuals, such as those on blood thinners or pregnant women, should consult a physician before opting for this treatment.

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What’s dry needling?

Dry needling can also be called trigger point dry needle needling, myofascial trigger points dry needle needling, or myofascial trigger-point dry needling. To treat myofascial discomfort, dry needling is performed by acupuncturists as well as some doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists (PTs). The roots of “myofascial”, which refers to muscle, and “fascia”, which refers to tissue that connects muscles, make up the word myofascial.

Trigger points are knotted areas in muscles that can lead to muscle pain. These trigger points can be extremely sensitive and painful to touch. These trigger points are often responsible for referred pain, or pain that affects another area of the body. Clinicians push thin, solid needles through the skin to trigger points. The needles are not used to inject medication, but to stimulate the tissue.

How your body moves can be affected by pain. Dry needling physical therapy is believed to change the way that the brain and muscles communicate with each other. This allows the system to return to normal movement patterns.

Patients may feel different sensations while being needled. Muscle soreness, aching, and a muscle twitch are all good signs. The needles can be placed superficially or deeply depending on the type of pain being treated and how long they have lasted. A needle that stays in the muscle for a shorter time will stay there for a few seconds while a longer period could last from 10 to 15 minutes.

What types of pain can dry needling treat?

Dry needling is often used in conjunction with other therapies, such as manual therapy, heat therapy, exercise, education, or manual therapy. Dry needling can be used to improve the range of motion due to scar tissue or muscle tightness. Dry needling can also be used to treat:

  • Joint problems
  • Disk problems
  • Tendinitis
  • Headaches of tension and migraines
  • Jaw and mouth issues (such as TMD or temporomandibular disorders)
  • Whiplash
  • Repetitive motion disorders (like carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Spinal problems
  • Pelvic pain
  • Night cramps
  • Phantom pain
  • Post-herpetic neuralgia (pain caused by shingles)

Who shouldn’t have dry needling treatment?

Patients who are considering dry needling should first consult their doctor. This is especially true for patients who take blood thinners or are just recovering from surgery

  • Pregnant women
  • People who cannot understand the treatment
  • People who are afraid of needles


What are the side effects of dry needling physical therapy?

The most adverse effects were minor and include:

  • Soreness after or during treatment
  • Bleeding at ‘s point of pushing in
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Bruising

An uncommon side effect of improper needle insertion is a major organ puncture. This could occur when the needle is inserted in the chest and punctures the lung.

Dry needling, which is allowed in some states by law, is a method physical therapists use to treat pain and movement impairments. A “dry” needle is one that does not require medication or injections and is inserted into the muscles.

Dry needling can also be described using

  • Trigger point dry needling.
  • Intramuscular manual treatment.

Dry needling physical therapy does not refer to acupuncture. This is based on traditional Chinese medicine that is administered by acupuncturists. Research supports dry needling as a part of modern Western medicine.

What is a trigger point?

Trigger points are a taut area of skeletal muscle that is part of a larger group. Trigger points may be tender to touch. Trigger points can be tender to the touch.

What Kinds of Needles are Used?

A thin, filiform needle is used for dry needling. The needle penetrates the skin to stimulate the myofascial trigger point and connective tissue.  A clinician can target tissues that are difficult to reach with their hands by using a needle. When dry needling, a clinician use gloves and personal protection equipment. The medical sharps collector disposes of the used sterile needles.

Dry Needling Benefits

Dry needling therapy can be beneficial for many patients, even those with

  • Entrapment Syndromes: Piriformis, thoracic outlet, pronator Teres, cubital tunnel syndrome
  • Tendinitis Rotator: Tendinitis and medial/lateral epicondylitis. Achilles tendinitis. Patellar tendinitis. Plantar fasciitis
  • Frozen shoulder & other joint restrictions
  • Chronic tension-type headaches
  • Sprain/strain: Hamstring and adductor injuries, cervical, thoracic and low back
  • Chronic pain conditions: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome [CRPS], Fibromyalgia
  • Compartment syndrome

Why Dry Needling?

Dry needling is often used by physical therapists as part of a larger treatment program. Dry needling can be used to release trigger points or activate them. This can help relieve pain and improve the range of motion. Dry needling is known to improve pain control and decrease muscle tension, according to research. Research also shows that dry needling can correct motor end plate dysfunctions, which are responsible for nerve impulses being transmitted to the muscles. This can speed up the patient’s return for active rehabilitation.