Dry Needling

Dry Needling Dry Needling

Dry Needling is a general term for a treatment procedure that involves advancing a filament needle into the muscle in the area of the body which produces pain and typically contains a ‘Trigger Point’. There is no injectable solution and typically the needle which is used is very thin.

What is a Trigger Point?

A trigger point is an area of sustained local contraction within the muscle due to excessive release of acetylcholine at the synaptic cleft. These sustained local contractions compress local blood supply, restricting the energy needs of the tissue. This energy crisis produces hyper-irritability and palpable knots within the muscle.

What causes a Trigger Point?

Trigger points may be caused by acute local trauma (such as a muscle strain) or chronic muscle overload (such as repetitive stress or poor postural habits). Other contributing factors include disease processes, psychological stress, and radiculopathy (inflamed or compressed nerve roots). Trigger points cause tightness in muscles, which in turn can pull on tendons and ligaments associated with the muscle and can cause pain within a joint where there are no muscles. There are more than 600 potential trigger points in human muscles. These trigger points, when they become active, can cause pain patterns in muscles that often follow specific nerve pathways and have been mapped to allow for identification of the causative pain factor.

How does Dry Needling work?

When the needle enters the trigger point, it causes a local twitch response. This twitch response uses up the excessive acetylcholine associated with the trigger point, allowing the trigger point to release and the muscle to relax; thereby reducing pain and restoring normal length and function of the involved muscle.

Does it hurt?

Most patients will not even feel the needle penetrate the skin, but once it is advanced into the muscle, the feeling of discomfort can vary from patient to patient. Usually a healthy muscle feels very little discomfort with insertion of the needle; however, if the muscle is sensitive and shortened or has active trigger points within it, you may feel a sensation much like a muscle cramp or twitch response. You may only feel the cramping sensation locally or you may feel a referral of pain or similar symptoms for which you are seeking treatment. A reproduction of your pain can be a helpful diagnostic indicator of the cause of your symptoms.

How long before I see results?

Typically positive results are apparent within 2-4 treatment sessions but can vary depending on the cause and duration of the symptoms and your overall health.

What are some commonly treated conditions that respond well to dry needling?

Dry needling is an effective treatment for acute and chronic pain, rehabilitation from injury, and even pain and injury prevention, with very few side effects.

Muscle Tears

Cervico-genic Headaches

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Rotator Cuff Injuries

Impingement Syndromes

Lateral Epicondylosis (tennis elbow)

Medial Epicondylosis (golfer’s elbow)

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis

Cervical or Lumbar Radiculpathy

Muscular Tone/Tightness/Spasms

Piriformis Syndrome


Adductor Strains

IT Band Syndrome

Hamstring Strains

Patellofemoral Syndrome

Patellar Tendinitis

Compartment Syndrome

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (shin splints)

Achilles Tendinopathy

Plantar Fasciopathy