Dry needling (DN) is a skilled procedure used by physical therapists to manage pain and movement impairments. It is primarily used to address neuro-muscular dysfunction by stimulating trigger points on either a bioelectrical or biochemical bases. Muscles have a resting tone, but when they are in dysfunction, they are either too tense (hypertonic), too weak (hypotonic), or shut down (inhibited). DN can relax tense muscles, excite weak muscles, and turn on inactive muscles, and aide them back to a functional resting tone.
Dry Needling is performed to help reduce pain associated with trigger points in conjunction with strengthening, stretching, manual, and modalities. A plan of care will be established by the PT to address dysfunction associated with the patient’s current conditions.
There are a number of questions that can not be answered on this webpage, as every condition and individual is unique. Examples include frequency and duration of treatment, if someone is appropriate for dry needling, or if it is contraindicated.
What can I expect during the procedure?
First, you will be assessed for a trigger point. Then, the area will be cleansed with an alcohol swab. A thin filiform needle will be inserted through the skin into the trigger point. This will elicit a muscle twitch and the needle will be removed. You will be supervised through the whole procedure. Multiple trigger points can be addressed in the same treatment. It is normal to have some soreness for 24-48 hours after the procedure. Cold pack application and gentle stretching can be utilized to reduce discomfort.
Most frequent questions and answers
The most common side effect is soreness. Bleeding is minimal and bruising is rare but can occur due to needle insertion. Bleeding and pneumothorax are rare.
The amount of time can vary. It is one procedure that will be performed in conjunction with other procedures, techniques and modalities in a 45 minute to hour long appointment.
No, you do not have to try it again if you have too much discomfort or do not feel it is beneficial. Please provide feedback to your physical therapist and discuss your concerns.
Yes, if you have a bleeding disorder, compromised immune system, allergies to metal, unstable epilepsy, or confusion. Medical histories will be discussed with patient prior to procedure to check for other contraindications.