Dry Needling

To learn more about dry needling, click the questions below.

What is Dry Needling?

Dry Needling is a western form of "Acupuncture" and this treatment has been described using many names. Dry Needling is the most current term. Acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine and Acupuncture needling treatment occurs along the meridian system. Modern Dry Needling is based on western neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous system. Volumes of research have been written on the subject of Dry Needling by several physicians (Janet Travell, MD, David Simons, MD, Peter Baldry, MD, and Karel Lewit, MD).

Acupuncture Theory

In Acupuncture, it is thought that when Chi (life energy) becomes stagnant and the flow is disrupted, illness and disease result. In order to restore Chi distribution, Acupuncture needles are inserted into Acupuncture points along the meridians (energetic pathways) of the body.

Western researchers have determined that energetic pathways or meridians do not exist. However, many of these points along the energetic pathways do correspond with nerves, motor points and trigger points in muscle, and treating these areas with needling can have a positive, therapeutic effect on injured muscles and nerves and improve body functions.

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 nervous systems based on modern neuroanatomy science. Acupuncture falls within the scope of traditional Chinese medicine. It would be incorrect to refer to a practitioner of Dry Needling as an "Acupuncturist" since Dry Needling practitioners do not use traditional meridians (meridians are based on a 2000 year old dogma).

When is Dry Needling used by your Physical Therapist?

Dry Needling can be a powerful adjunctive treatment at Physical Therapy First, though it is important to remember that Dry Needling is only one part of the treatment component. Physical therapy will likely also address biomechanical muscle imbalances, postural dysfunctions, muscular flexibility limitation, strength deficits, and swollen or stiff joints. Physical therapy treatment may include: joint mobilization, a carefully designed therapeutic exercise plan, and advanced hands-on therapy techniques. These will restore a patient’s optimal physical function. A multidimensional treatment approach is paramount for a successful recovery. Singular treatment approaches often only offer temporary relief or fail altogether. Hence the old saying is true, "if your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail".

What is the Cost of Dry Needling?

While some patients choose to pay out-of-pocket for Dry Needling treatment, often Dry Needling is covered by insurance as part of a larger treatment plan.

How does Dry Needling Improve Function and Reduce Pain?

How Dry Needling improves function and reduces pain:

  1. Dry Needling of muscular trigger points causes relaxation through disruption of the motor endplate.
  2. Tiny injuries created by the needle insertion cause a local healing response in the dysfunctional, painful tissue, which restores normal function through the natural healing process.
  3. Dry Needling stimulates neural pathways which blocks pain by disrupting pain messages being sent to the central nervous system. The pain control process occurs by:
    1. Opioid suppression at the spinal cord level.
    2. The Gate Theory of pain.
    3. Activating neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, which contribute to a systemic pain inhibiting effect, and this neurotransmitter response extends the therapeutic benefit to other areas of the body.
  4. Dry Needling causes a local chemically mediated response through the release of Bradykinin, Substance P, and other body proteins and neurotransmitters, which block the transmission of pain messages.
What Conditions Does Dry Needling Help?

Dry Needling, combined with physical therapy treatment, has been shown to help the following conditions:

  1. Acute and chronic tendonitis
  2. Athletic and sports-related overuse injuries
  3. Post-surgical pain
  4. Post-traumatic injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and work related injuries
  5. Chronic pain conditions
  6. Headaches and whiplash
  7. Lower back pain