Dry Needling (DN) is considered to be a cost effective, safe, and efficient technique for
the treatment of pain and dysfunction of neuromusculoskeletal origin. It is an approach
that is based on western anatomical & neurophysiological principles. There are many
conditions that can benefit from dry needling treatments.
Dry Needling FAQ's
What is Dry Needling?
Dry Needling is a form of therapy in which fine monofilament needles are
inserted into muscles, tendons, ligaments, scar tissue, or near nerves to
stimulate a healing response and restore normal function in painful
neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Dry needling is not acupuncture or Eastern
Medicine; that is, it does not have the goal of altering the flow of energy along
traditional Chinese meridians. It does, however, use the same tool (thin
monofilament needle) as acupuncture for the treatment of pain and dysfunction in
neuromusculoskeletal conditions such as neck pain, shoulder impingement,
tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, knee pain, shin splints, plantar
fasciitis, or low-back pain.
What is the difference between Dry Needling and Acupuncture?
Dry Needling is performed by Western Medical Practitioners using Acupuncture-
type needles to treat the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems based on
modern neuroanatomical science. Dry Needling is used to directly affect joint,
muscular, and/or neurological dysfunctions whereas Acupuncture uses principles
affecting energy flow (Chi) along meridians. Acupuncture falls within the scope of
traditional Chinese medicine. It would be incorrect to refer to a practitioner of Dry
Needling as an "Acupuncturist".
How can DN reduce pain and improve function?
remodeling, extensibility, and healing. It does this by activating the fight or flight
response (aka sympathetic nervous system), allowing for an increase in blood flow for
pain modulation and tissue healing. It also reduces the number of inflammatory cells
within a joint, which helps to keep the joint lubricated. Further, electrical dry needling
helps to inhibit pain, improve the pain threshold, and break the chronicity of the pain
cycle. In these ways, dry needling causes a local healing response in the dysfunctional,
painful tissue, which restores normal function through the natural healing process.
These healing effects allow for the targeted area to regain strength and mobility with
-Dry Needling stimulates neural pathways which block pain by disrupting messages
being sent to the central nervous system. The pain control process occurs by:
response to other areas of the body.
2. The Gate Theory of pain.
3. Opioid suppression at the spinal cord level.
-Dry Needling causes a local chemically mediated response through the release of
Bradykinins, Substance P, norepinephrine, serotonin, endorphins, and other body
proteins and neurotransmitters to block the transmission of pain messages.
What are common conditions that can benefit from DN?
Acute and chronic tendonitis
Athletic and sports-related overuse injuries
Post-traumatic injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and work related injuries
Chronic pain conditions
Headaches and whiplash
Lower back pain
Arthritic Joint Pain
Over and underactive nerve sensations
Scar tissue remodeling
What happens after the treatments?
Some people feel sore in the tissues surrounding the treatment area. The
soreness typically lasts between a few hours and 3 days. This soreness is due to
your body adjusting to the remodeling of the targeted tissue. It is important to
drink plenty of water throughout the day after a dry needling treatment. Using
heat on the treatment area is also an effective way to enhance the treatment and
How long does it take for dry needling to be effective?
Every person and every condition is unique, however, the typical
recommendation for dry needling treatments is 1-2 times per week for four
weeks. The needles will most likely remain in situ (in the tissue) for 10-30
minutes per treatment session.