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What is Dry Needling?

Written by: Alyssa Coons, DPT

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a modality used in conjunction with physical therapy to assist in recovery of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions It uses a thin needle inserted into the tissue to stimulate healing, improve circulation, and reduce pain.

How does it work?

The way that your body heals is through the inflammatory process. Inflammation brings healing cells into the area. Dry needling stimulates this process by creating micro-inflammation thereby promoting healing into the tissue.

What is it used for?

Typically dry needling is used for new onset of pain or for those that are dealing with chronic/long term pain. It can be used to assist in getting someone out of the pain cycle and promote the healing process. It is used as an adjunct to your therapy. Other aspects of physical therapy may include mobility work, strengthening, and lifestyle modifications that play a role in addressing your pain. Common conditions treated with dry needling include: shoulder pain, hip pain, calf pain, neck pain, headaches, low back pain, and nerve related pain.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Does it hurt? Typically no. You may feel pressure or sensitivity in the area but the process should be tolerable. Adjustments can be made to make the treatment more comfortable. Dry needling may not be for everyone, therefore we will screen you prior to treatment to make sure you are an appropriate candidate for needling.

  • Is this the same as acupuncture? No. The needles used are the same but the methodology and mechanism behind the procedure is different.

  • What are the risks? The most common side effects from dry needling are light bleeding, bruising, or soreness post treatment session. Precautions and thorough screening processes are performed prior to treatment to make sure you are an appropriate candidate for dry needling.

  • Can I just have dry needling? Dry needling works best when combined with other treatments. Incorporating recommended strength or mobility work with dry needling tends to lead to better long term outcomes than dry needling alone.

  • How many sessions will I need? This will vary depending on the person. Typically you should see some improvement after the first 1-2 sessions. The frequency of appointments will depend on symptom response and the individual person.

If you have questions regarding the use of dry needling or would like help getting out of pain – schedule an appointment with physical therapy!

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