What is trigger point dry needling?

Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments.

Dry needing is an option to treat:

  • Acute and chronic tendinitis
  • Athletic and sports-related overuse injuries
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Post-traumatic injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and work related injuries
  • Chronic pain conditions
  • Headaches
  • Whiplash
  • Lower back pain
  • Shoulder impingement
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Muscle Spasms
  •  Fibromyalgia
  • Sciatic Pain
  • Hip Pain
  • Knee Pain
  • Repetitive Strain Injuries
  •  TMJ
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • And many other neuromusculoskeletal conditions

For should pain, shoulder impingement, muscle knots.

For pain relief, will dry needling work for me?

Often times, alternative soft tissue treatments require multiple sessions to achieve the same effect as one or two 10 minute needling sessions. Results may vary, but the majority of patients see a significant improvement after one or two dry needling sessions.

Dry needling for neck pain, headaches, and whiplash.

What to expect?

Typically, patients feel some level of discomfort during the procedure, which often reproduces or intensifies the patient’s symptoms for a short period of time. Patients often times describe a soreness in the area that was needled immediately following treatment. This is normal although does not always occur. The soreness varies person to person and depending on the muscle group that was treated and typically lasts a few hours and feels like you have had an intense workout at the gym. Occasionally small bruising is accompanied with soreness. Expect noticeable change in symptoms after one or two treatments.

How does Dry Needling work?

The mechanical stimulation of the muscle elicits a local twitch response or rapid depolarization of muscle tissue. After this process, the neurologic input of the trigger point drastically reduces and a reflexive relaxation of the muscle is observed resulting in decrease of pain and dysfunction. Dry Needling has also been shown to alter the chemical environment of active trigger points and initiate a new healing process.

Is it Safe?

We go to great lengths at Crossover Physical Therapy to ensure safety. Our therapists have doctoral level training, have passed their board exams, and have received formal education in dry needling. Our therapists have an extensive understanding of anatomy and significantly more training and education than the national average for Physical Therapists. We apply OSHA standards and take the highest of precautions with all needling therapies.

How long do the effects last?

Improvements from dry needling can be permanent but may require additional follow up sessions to completely resolve symptoms. Dry needling is not a standalone intervention and is most effectively paired with other manual therapy and exercise based interventions to correct for faulty movement patterns.

Dry Needling vs Acupuncture

The sole similarity between dry needling and acupuncture is the tool itself – a solid, filiform needle. Traditional acupuncture is based on eastern medicine with the purpose of normalizing energy imbalances, or “Qi” along traditional Chinese meridians for the treatment of diseases. The performance of dry needling by physical therapists is based on western neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous system. Dry needling is highly researched originating from injection therapies to restore optimal function of muscles.

Dry Needling vs. Trigger Point Injection

Dry needling is different from trigger point injections in that no medication is delivered, therefore the risk for side effects is less and the needling can be performed more frequently.

Traditional trigger point injections use a hollow, hypodermic needle to inject substances such as saline or corticosteroids into the tissue. When the two treatments are compared for treatment of myofascial trigger points, numerous systematic reviews and randomized control trials have found no statistically significant difference between dry needling and trigger point injections. Evidence supports that the “needling effect” is the most important part of the process rather than the substance injected. This does not mean that some patients will not have greater success with injection based treatments rather than dry needling or vice versa.