Dry Needling by a Physical Therapist: What you should know


Dry needling is a technique physical therapists use (where allowed by state law) to treat myofascial pain. The technique uses a “dry” needle, one without medication or injection, inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle, know as trigger points.

Other terms commonly used to describe dry needling, include trigger point dry needling, and intramuscular manual therapy.

Dry needling is not acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists. Dry needling is a part of modern Western medicine principles, and supported by research. (Cummings MT, White AR, Needling therapies in the management of myofascial trigger point pain: a systematic review. Arch Phys Med Rehabl. 2001; 82(7): 986-992 )

Description of Dry Needling In Clinical Practice


Indications for Use: 

DN may be incorporated into a treatment plan when myofascial TrPs (Trigger Points) are present, which may lead to impairments in body structure, pain, and functional limitations. TrPs are sources of persistent peripheral nociceptive input 24 and their inactivation is consistent with current pain management insights.77 DN also is indicated with restrictions in range of motion due to contractured muscle fibers or taut bands, or other soft tissue restrictions, such as fascial adhesions or scar tissue. TrPs have been identified in numerous diagnoses, such as radiculopathies,78 joint dysfunction,79 disk pathology,80 tendonitis,81 craniomandibular dysfunction,82,83 migraines,84,85 tension-type headaches,86,87 carpal tunnel syndrome,88,89 computer-related disorders,90,91 whiplash associated disorders,92-94 spinal dysfunction,95 pelvic pain and other urologic syndromes,96-99 post-herpetic neuralgia,100,101 complex regional pain syndrome,102,103 nocturnal cramps,104 phantom pain,105,106 and other relatively uncommon diagnoses such as Barré Liéou syndrome,107 or neurogenic pruritus,108 among others.109