Dry needling is a treatment that healthcare providers use for pain and movement issues associated with myofascial trigger points. With this technique, a provider inserts thin needles into or near your trigger points. The needles stimulate your muscles, which causes them to contract or twitch. This helps relieve pain and improve your range of motion.
What is dry needling?
Dry needling is a technique that Chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists and other trained healthcare providers use to treat musculoskeletal pain and movement issues. It’s almost always used as part of a larger pain management plan that could include adjustments, exercise, stretching, massage and other techniques. During this treatment, a provider inserts thin, sharp needles through your skin to treat underlying myofascial trigger points.
In the word “myofascial,” “myo” means “muscle.” Fascia is the thin, white connective tissue wrapped around your muscles.
Trigger points are knotted, tender areas that develop in your muscles. These trigger points are highly sensitive and can be painful when touched. Sometimes, a trigger point may be near the location of your pain. But they’re also often the cause of referred pain. Referred pain is pain that affects another part of your body.
Chiropractors and physical therapists use needles to alleviate your trigger points. When dry needling is applied to your muscles and tissues, it can decrease tightness, increase blood flow and reduce local and referred pain. Providers use solid needles that don’t contain any kind of medication. This is why the technique is called “dry.” Nothing is injected into your body. Trigger point injections are different. They contain medicine and are performed by a physician.
Other names for dry needling are medical acupuncture, trigger point dry needling and intramuscular stimulation.
Typically, a round of treatment using dry needling for a condition consists of 2-5 treatments in a 1-3 week stretch, 20 minutes each. It can be performed either alone or combined with other types of therapy.
What does dry needling do?
Dry needling may help relieve pain and increase your range of motion. Conditions that dry needling may treat include:
- Joint issues.
- Disk issues.
- Migraine and tension-type headaches.
- Jaw and mouth problems, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues.
- Repetitive motion disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Spinal issues.
- Pelvic pain.
- Night cramps.