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Dry Needling

What is Dry Needling?

Dry Needling is a procedure in which a thin monofilament needle is inserted into the skin and muscle. It is aimed at myofascial trigger points which are hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle. Trigger point dry needling can be carried out at superficial or deep tissue level.

How Does Dry Needling Work?

Dry needling has been shown to have immediate effects such as increasing pressure-pain threshold and range of motion, decreasing muscle tone, and decreasing pain in patients with musculoskeletal conditions. Additional physiological effects include:

  • Local Twitch Response: Dry needling can elicit a local twitch response which is a localized contraction of the affected muscles that are being dry needled caused by an involuntary spinal reflex. Local twitch response can lead to alteration in the length and decreased tension of muscles fibers.

  • Effects on Blood Flow: Sustained tension in taut muscle bands in trigger points might cause a lack of blood flow and decreased oxygen being transported to the muscles. Dry needling causes vasodilation in the small blood vessels leading to increased muscle blood flow and oxygenation to local tissues.

  • Neurophysiological effects: Dry needling may produce local and central nervous responses to restore hemostasis at the site of the trigger point. This essentially "resets the nervous system" which results in reduction pain sensitivity from the central/peripheral nervous system.

  • Remote Effects: Dry needling of trigger points has been found to have analgesic effect referred pain. Your physical therapist will perform a comprehensive evaluation and may dry needle adjacent areas in order to fully treat symptoms.

What To Expect After Dry Needling

  • You may feel sore immediately after treatment in the area of the body you were treated. This is normal but does not always occur. Sometimes it can take up to 24 hours to feel soreness. The soreness may vary depending on the area of the body that was treated as well as varies person to person, but typically it feels like you had an intense workout at the gym. Soreness typically lasts 24-48 hours.

  • Bruising can result after treatment; some areas are more likely than others. Some common areas are shoulders, base of neck, head and face, arms and legs. Large bruising rarely occurs, but is possible. Use ice to help decrease the bruising and if you feel concern please call your provider.

  • There are times when treatment may actually make your typical symptoms worse. This is normal. If this continues past the 24–48 hour window, keep note of it, as this is helpful information Your provider will then adjust your treatment plan based on your report if needed. This does not mean TDN cannot help your condition.

What should I do after treatment?

  • It is highly recommended that you increase your water intake for the next 24 hours after treatment to help avoid soreness.

  • It is recommended that you soak in a hot bath or hot tub to help avoid post treatment soreness.

  • After treatment you may do the following based on your comfort level. If it hurts or exacerbates your symptoms then stop.

-Work out and/or stretch

-Massage the area

-Use a heating pad or ice

-Take Tylenol, Ibuprofin/Motrin, aspirin

Contact Us

If you or someone you know could benefit from dry needling, click the button below to view our Contact Us page. I will discuss your case with you on the phone during a free 15-minute phone consult to see if we are a good fit for you and you are a good fit to work with us.


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