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Dry Needling

Dry Needling

What is Dry Needling?

  • Dry needling is a skilled intervention performed by a Physical Therapist that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points within muscular and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments. Dry needling elicits a twitch response in the muscle that improves muscle flexibility, removes the source of irritation, promotes healing, and decreases the spontaneous electrical activity at the trigger points.
  • Trigger points are localized areas of muscular tightness commonly referred to “spasm” or “knots”. Trigger points are defined as the presence of hyperirritable spots in a taut band of muscle, and may elicit a twitch in response to pressure. Trigger points can develop from injuries, poor posture, or a disease process.
  • The muscular tightness or spasm that develops from an injury or disease process can cause compression and irritation of the nerves exiting the spine and anywhere along their pathway. When the nerves are irritated they can cause a protective “spasm” to any of the muscles along their pathway. Treatment must be directed centrally at the origin of the pain and peripherally to reduce symptoms from compression.

When is Dry Needling indicated as a treatment? 

  • Upon examination, your Physical Therapist may identify taut bands of muscle that are restricting range of motion, eliciting pain, and impacting poor movement function. Dry needling may be recommended within the manual therapy approach to relieve pain and restore normal muscle resting length, down-regulate the nervous system, and restore the function of the neuromusculoskeletal system.

What do I expect in a Dry Needling session?

  • Following a physical examination, a Physical Therapist may find Dry Needling to be appropriate as a treatment option.
  • Wear loose-fitting close so the clinician can access the area being treated.
  • One or more needles maybe used, and the procedure may be performed during more than one office visit. The number of needles and the frequency of the procedure will depend entirely on your condition at each office visit.
  • There may be some discomfort and little to no bleeding with this procedure. While an infection is an unlikely event with this procedure, whenever there is penetration of the skin, there is a risk of infection. Standard precautions and a clean needle technique are used throughout each session, as well as isopropyl alcohol used to sterilize the skin.
  • Other unlikely but possible events include fainting, soreness, pneumothorax (lung puncture). If you have a fear of needles, a genetic bleeding disorder, a history of a blood disorder that can be transmitted to another person, are regularly taking any blood-thinning medication (for example, Coumadin or Warfarin), or are regularly taking any pain relievers containing ibuprofen, NSAIDS, aspirin or acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, or Bufferin), please inform your physical therapist.
  • You will be asked to sign a consent form prior to initiating treatment.

How is Dry Needling different from Acupuncture? 

  • Dry Needling is NOT acupuncture. As licensed Physical Therapists, we do not claim to perform acupuncture or any other form of Eastern Medicine.
  • Traditional Chinese Acupuncture evaluations examine tongue and pulse with the goal of balancing energy, life-force, or qi in the body. Needle insertion points are founded in the knowledge of meridians.
  • Dry Needling evaluation includes a subjective and objective examination of the neuromuscular system. Needle insertion points are based on anatomical assessment for trigger points.


Dry Needling can be used to treat the following sports-related injuries:

  • Tennis elbow
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome
  • Labrum tears
  • Jumper’s knee, patellar tendonitis, and quad tendonitis
  • Hip impingement syndrome
  • TMJ and more..



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