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Treating muscle pain and dysfunction.

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What is dry needling?

Dry needling is defined as a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments (APTA). Dry needling is used to compliment your existing treatment consisting of manual therapy and exercises.

Dry Needling can help treat muscle injuries resulting in:

Neck Pain


Low Back Pain


Plantar Fasciitis

Knee Pain

Shoulder Pain

During your PT examination your PT may find muscle problems that would respond well to dry needling. They will discuss this treatment option with you and describe the technique and inform you of any risks or side effects. Not every patient referred to PT is a candidate for dry needling. The technique typically takes 10-15 minutes. The number of muscles treated will vary based on your examination.

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It is normal to experience muscle twitches during the technique. Most people describe the sensation as a muscle “cramping” or “deep muscle ache” that lasts 1-2 seconds. Immediately after dry needling most people have decreased pain and increased mobility. 

Some patients may experience muscle soreness after treatment, similar to post-workout muscle aching. This soreness usually resolves after a few hours. Electrical stimulation may be incorporated with this technique, which can help manage soreness.  Typical post treatment care includes: mobilization, stretching, specific exercise, ice and/or heat.


Are there any risks with this procedure?

As with many medical modalities, there are risks associated with dry needling but complications are extremely rare. The most common side effects are needle insertion pain, muscle soreness, fatigue and bruising. There are also more serious complications associate with this technique, but there are rare. Prior to your treatment, your physical therapist will explain all the possible risks and together you can make an informed decision if dry needling is right for you.

Is Dry Needling the same as acupuncture?

No, this is a common misconception. While the actual needle used for the technique may be the same, these techniques are different. The focus of traditional acupuncture is the insertion of the needles in specific acupuncture points or “meridians” of the body. The ultimate goal of acupuncture is to restore normal flow of the “life force” energy within the body to promote overall healing and wellness. Dry needling is directed more specifically at individual muscles, relieving pain and trigger points in these specific muscles, and restoring functional movement.

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