Dry Needling is a technique physical therapists use for the treatment of pain and movement impairments. The technique uses a "dry" needle, one without medication or injection, inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle where trigger points are located, in symptomatic locations and in high value nerve energy locations called neurotrigger points.
What is a Trigger Point?
A trigger point is a taut band of skeletal muscle located within a larger muscle group. Trigger points can be tender to the touch, and touching a trigger point may cause pain to other parts of the body.
What Kind of Needles Are Used?
Dry needling involves a thin filiform needle that penetrates the skin and stimulates underlying myofascial trigger points as well as muscular and connective tissues. The needle allows a physical therapist to target tissues that are not manually palpable.
Physical therapists wear gloves or finger cots when dry needling, consistent with OSHA standards. The sterile needles are disposed of in a medical sharps collector.
Why Dry Needling?
In cases when dry needling is used by physical therapists, it is typically one technique that's part of a larger treatment plan.
Physical therapists use dry needling with the goal of releasing or inactivating trigger points to relieve pain or improve range of motion. Research supports that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, and normalizes dysfunctions at the sites at which nerve impulses are transmitted to muscles. This can help speed up the patient's return to active rehabilitation.