Dry Needling Therapy

What is dry needling?

Dry needling involves the insertion of sterile, single-use, monofilament needles directly into myofascial (muscular) trigger points. Trigger points (commonly referred to as “knots”) are composed of taut bands within the muscle, which cause tension and contribute to pain.  Research studies have shown that inserting such needles into trigger points causes biochemical changes within the body, which help reduce pain.

mjpt dry needling therapy

Who would benefit from dry needling?

Dry needling is an effective treatment option for people dealing with myofascial or muscular pain.  Myofascial pain syndrome, or trigger points, can be a source of pain and limit function.  These trigger points or “knots” can be found in any muscle throughout the body.  Dry needling is a specialized treatment for trigger points provided by physical therapists who have undergone advanced training in the safety and efficacy of the intervention. It is one possible treatment option, usually combined with other techniques including exercises, to manage myofascial pain. Our physical therapists can perform a thorough evaluation to help determine if you are a good candidate for this treatment as part of a program designed to reduce your pain and improve your function.     


Is dry needling the same as acupuncture?

No. Although dry needling uses the same needles as acupuncture, it is not based on the same theory and thus involves a different technique.  Dry needling is strictly based upon Western medicine principles of treating myofascial trigger points, which are different from traditional acupuncture points.  

How does dry needling work?

Pioneering studies by Dr. Jay Shah and colleagues have shown that inserting needles into a trigger point causes biochemical changes which alleviate pain. It is essential to elicit local “twitch” responses within the muscle, which are the first step to breaking the pain cycle and releasing tight trigger points within muscles.  A great example of the trigger point system:

trigger points

Is dry needling painful?

The initial insertion of the needle does not usually cause any discomfort. The local twitch response can cause a brief painful reaction. Some patients describe this as an electric shock or a cramping sensation, though the sensation is quite unique.  It is important to remember that the therapeutic effect often occurs by eliciting the twitch response, so you may experience some brief discomfort in order to achieve the best results. Most patients describe treatment as feeling uncomfortable, but not painful.

Are the needles sterile and is it safe?

 Yes. We only use sterile, single-use, disposable needles.  Each patient receives a thorough evaluation to determine if DN is an appropriate and safe treatment option for their condition.  The risk of this intervention is very small but ANY risk is discussed with the patient in detail prior to treatment.  

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