What Is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is commonly used to decrease pain but the mechanisms behind this response are complex and still not completely understood. Direct stimulation from the needle into the trigger point is thought to activate an inhibitory signal from the brain which dampens the pain response. After needling, blood flow is also increased to the affected area which may help restore normal tissue characteristics. The presence of a trigger point within a muscle and associated pain can contribute to feelings of tightness and reduced range of motion. By dry needling the trigger point, muscle tone can be reduced and movement increased.

Dry needle therapy uses a very fine, solid, filament needle and relies on the stimulation of specific reactions in the target tissue for its therapeutic effect.

The term dry needling is also used to differentiate the use of needling in a western physiological paradigm from the use of needling in an oriental paradigm which is referred to as acupuncture.

Dry needling helps to reduce pain and tension within a muscle, thereby helping the muscles and other tissues to heal. It involves the insertion of needles into trigger points. Needling can help to release trigger point tightness, enhance blood circulation and assist with the release of pain mediating chemicals and endorphins. This helps to reduce pain and promote healing.

While dry needling is relatively safe, there are some risks due to its invasive nature. The most commonly reported side effects are pain and bruising in the needled area, and drowsiness following the treatment.

Physiotherapists often combine it with other treatment techniques to achieve superior results, faster.

If Dry needling is recommended by your Physiotherapist as being beneficial for your condition, they will request your consent prior to the treatment. 

Common conditions that can be treated by Dry needling:

  • Chronic pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Tennis and golfer’s elbow
  • Shoulder impingement and Frozen shoulder
  • Knee pain
  • ITB friction syndrome
  • Hip pain and bursitis
  • Sciatica

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