What Is Dry Needling?

The dry needling technique is a therapeutic technique used to help treat patients with certain musculoskeletal disorders. This technique is safe, minimally invasive, and considered by many patients as effective in treating their pain. The purpose of dry needling is not to cure the source of the pain, but another tool in the arsenal of trained physical therapists to better manage the pain.

Dry Needling Technique
Dry Needling Technique

What is Dry Needling Used For?

Dry needling is used as part of an overall physical therapy treatment plan for pain. The process of dry needling includes placing a very thin filament needle into the skin. This needle is placed in a specific area of the muscle to help treat the pain. The needle is left in the skin for a short amount of time then removed.

This process helps increase the blood flow and reduces pain in the specific area of the muscle. The dry needling technique is often used in the shoulder, neck, hip, and back to help reduce pain in patients.

Is Acupuncture the Same as Dry Needling?

Although many may consider acupuncture and dry needling to be the same thing, it definitely is not. Acupuncture is a treatment based on Eastern medicine and is used to treat the pain by targeting a person’s energy flow while dry needling is based on Western medicine and treats the pain by targeting specific muscles or trigger points.

What is Dry Needling
What is Dry Needling

While the dry needling is not something that is used as a stand alone treatment, it is extremely effective when paired with other traditional physical therapy techniques. When performed by a skilled, experienced, and certified physical therapist, dry needling is a great tool to help patients manage, and even reduce their pain.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How painful is dry needling?

A. The filament needles used in the dry needling techniques are extremely thin. The pain is very minimal, less than a vaccination or having blood drawn.

Q. What is the difference between acupuncture and dry needling?

A. Acupuncture and dry needling look similar on the surface, however they actually treat different aspects of a patient's health. Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and is based in Eastern medicine. It is used to treat pain by affecting a person’s energy, or Chi. Dry needling, however, is based on Western medicine and has only been around for a few decades. Dry needling treats pain by targeting trigger points in specific muscle areas.

Q. What is dry needling good for?

A. Dry needling is great for treating musculoskeletal disorders as part of an overall physical therapy treatment plan. Pain in the back, neck, shoulder, and other locations can benefit from adding dry needling to your treatment plan.

Q. What are the side effects of dry needling?

A. Although most people do not experience side effects as a result of dry needling, a small percentage have reported the following:

    • Slight increase in pain for the first day or two
    • Bruising or bleeding
    • Fatigue
    • Skin rash
    • Fainting

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