What is a Dry Needling?
Dry Needling is a technique used by physical therapists to treat myofascial (muscle) pain. The technique uses a “dry” needle, one without medication or injection. It is inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle, known as trigger points.
It is not acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists. Dry needling, rather, is a part of modern Western medicine principles, and is also supported by research.
What is a Trigger Point?
A trigger point is a tight band of skeletal muscle located within a larger muscle group. Trigger points can be tender to the touch. Touching a trigger point may cause pain to other parts of the body.
Why Dry Needling?
In cases when dry needling is used by physical therapists, it is typically one technique that’s part of a larger treatment plan.
Physical therapists use dry needling with the goal of releasing or inactivating trigger points to relieve pain or improve range of motion. Preliminary research supports that it improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, as well as normalizes dysfunctions of the motor end plates, the sites at which nerve impulses are transmitted to muscles. As a result, it can help speed up the patient’s return to active rehabilitation.
Physical therapists are well educated in anatomy and therapeutic treatment of the body. Physical therapists who perform dry needling supplement that knowledge by obtaining specific postgraduate education and training.
What Kind of Needles Are Used?
Dry needling involves a thin filiform needle that penetrates the skin and stimulates underlying myofascial trigger points and muscular and connective tissues. The needle allows a physical therapist to target tissues that are not manually palpable.