While dry needling may sound intimidating, this modality is a safe, minimally discomforting, and effective technique for patients with certain musculoskeletal ailments. At Free Body Physical Therapy, we offer dry needling to help patients find relief from numerous conditions. Continue reading to discover what dry needling can treat and if it could be right for you!

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling, also known as trigger point needling, is a treatment that aims to improve range of motion and relieve muscle pain. As the name suggests, dry needling involves the insertion of extremely thin needles into the skin to target specific tissues underneath. Unlike acupuncture treatments, which aim to restore energy flow in the body, dry needling is a technique based on science with more precise treatment goals. Dry needling has been shown to successfully treat a variety of conditions, including:

  • Tennis Elbow.
  • Neck and Back Pain.
  • Migraines.
  • Headaches.
  • Joint Problems.
  • Plantar Fasciitis.
  • Myofascial Pain.
  • TMJ.
  • Whiplash.
  • Shoulder Impingement.
  • Shin Splints.
  • Tendonitis.
  • Trigger Points

Trigger points are one of the more common conditions treated with dry needling. Trigger points are sore areas of knotted muscles. These knots create referred pain, which can take alternate pathways to create symptoms in other parts of the body. 

How Does It Work?

Irritated, inflamed, or damaged tissue often causes nearby muscles to contract. When this occurs, blood flow in these areas is restricted and worsens your condition. Dry needling in the area of injury stimulates a healing response. The tiny needles cause micro-tears, which prompt your body’s natural defenses and bring nutrient-rich blood to the site, boosting tissue repair. 

Unlike hollow needles that contain and deliver medications, this technique uses filiform needles that do not contain anything. There are various theories about how dry needling works. Dry needling stimulates a local twitch response, which is an involuntary contraction of muscle fibers. This stimulation triggers a reaction that has an analgesic effect. Inserting the dry needles also causes small lesions that stimulate regeneration and tissue repair in the days following treatment. 

What To Expect During Your Treatment

Before administering dry needling, our team at Free Body Physical Therapy will evaluate your condition and verify your eligibility before beginning any treatments. If you are eligible, our team will explain the process to ensure you are comfortable and receptive to treatment. Patients with the following conditions should consult with their healthcare provider to determine if dry needling would be beneficial:

  • Vascular Disease.
  • Compromised Immune System.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Diabetes.
  • Lymphedema.
  • Cancer.

Certain medications like blood thinners should be cleared for dry needling. Dry needling treatments generally take up to 15 minutes. At the beginning of your session, your therapist will sterilize the affected area and prepare the needles. There are several different dry needling techniques, including:

  • Superficial – The needle will be inserted into the skin just above the trigger point for around 30 seconds. The insertion may be repeated a few minutes later. 
  • Non-Trigger Point – Rather than inserting the needles directly into the knots, this technique involves placing needles in the muscle tissue surrounding the trigger point. 
  • Pistoning – Pistoning technique involves quick insertion and removal of the dry needles into the trigger points. The needle pricks the knot but is not left in for any time. 

While this treatment may sound intimidating and painful, dry needling is only minimally uncomfortable. You may experience muscle soreness or twitching during the treatment, but these are considered a good sign and indicate that your muscles are responding to treatment. 

Contact Us

Dry needling is a highly effective technique that is intended to relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. At Free Body Physical Therapy, our knowledgeable staff is here to guide you through your healing journey. If you are interested in dry needling to relieve your pain and expand your range of motion, be sure to contact us today and request an appointment!