What is dry needling?

Wednesday, March 15 2017

Dry needling is a technique physiotherapists use in order to treat muscular pain and myofascial dysfunction.

The term dry needling comes another medical procedure called trigger point injections. Trigger point injections are considered “wet” as they use a hollow hypodermic needle to inject the muscle with medication. Dry needling uses a solid filament needle or acupuncture needle and does not inject any medication and therefore is considered a “dry” needle.  

Dry needling involves needling of muscle trigger points without injecting any substance. It can also be called intramuscular stimulation as a needle is used to help relax an overactive muscle.  

Is it the same as acupuncture?

The same solid filament needles are used in both in acupuncture and dry needling so the confusion is understandable, however the techniques are not the same.

Acupuncture uses needles in specific acupuncture points on the body, which are connected by 20 pathways (12 main, 8 secondary) called meridians. These meridians conduct energy, or qi (pronounced "chi"), between the surface of the body and its internal organs.

Each point has a different effect on the qi that passes through it. Dry needling uses needles to target specific muscles that can be contracted and shortened. These tight/short muscles can compress joints and nerves and cause pain or limited range of motion. Releasing trigger points by using dry needling can greatly reduce the tightness and pain and also increase flexibility and range of motion. 

dry needling

What can be treated by dry needling?

Many common diagnoses can be the result of myofascial trigger points and respond to dry needling technique. Commonly treated conditions include shoulder tendonitis, TMJ dysfunction, tension headaches, lateral epicondilits, low back pain, sciatica, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. 

Many Lifemark clinics offer dry needling. Contact your clinic to find out more information.