What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a treatment performed by a skilled, trained physical therapist, certified in the procedure. Dry needling is a non-pharmaceutical and non-specific therapy for soft tissue pain and other symptoms.  A thin monofilament needle penetrates the skin and treats underlying soft tissue. Dry needling is most relevant for those who suffer from pain and dysfunction in soft tissue. Workers in professions that require repetitive muscular actions will benefit from dry needling as a way of preventing soft tissue dysfunction and the kind of joint injuries that arise in these types of professions. Athletes that perform repetitive actions will benefit from dry needling as well.

Current clinical evidence shows that dry needling can provide good results for most acute or chronic soft tissue pain or dysfunction. In addition, it has a role in the prevention of soft tissue pain and injuries and is especially appropriate in cases where patients cannot tolerate the side effects of conventional medications.

Dry needling can be integrated with almost any field of medicine to include physical therapy and occupational therapy. The goal is to heal patients faster without side effects, and to keep them healthy.  Dry needling is not acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by an acupuncturist.  Dry needling is a part of modern Western medicine principles and is supported by research.

How Does Dry Needling Work?

Metal filament needles are inserted in soft tissue through the skin in a selected area.  Needles may be removed immediately or left in place for some time, according to the condition being treated and the clinician’s decision. The lesion created by the needle creates a minute acute inflammation and the body starts to respond to this by activating both local and systemic regulatory processes, which brings about the healing of soft tissue. In short, needling and the resulting lesions and minute inflammation activate the biologic potential for self-healing.  The procedure triggers the body’s own healing mechanism.

Dry needling accelerates natural healing without suppressing protective physiologic mechanisms like inflammation, pain and fever. Dry needling is considered a natural treatment because it does not interfere with human physiology. Once the healing process starts, symptoms are controlled and will subside naturally. Dry needling can be used without side effects in most cases where there are symptoms of inflammation and pain.

What type of pain can dry needling treat?

  • Lower back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Muscle strains
  • Pain in your shoulders, neck, knees and hips
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, tendonitis, bursitis and other overuse injuries.

In summary, dry needling is a drugless inoculation (introduction) of minute “traumas” or lesions into the body, which restores the mechanisms of self-healing, including autonomic homeostasis (internal stability) and tissue healing, and leads to pain relief.