Trigger Point Dry Needling


Physical therapists use dry needling to treat myofascial pain, which is a disorder in which pressure on sensitive points in the muscles causes pain in seemingly unrelated body parts. Myofascial pain often happens after a muscle is overused, or if you have a repeated injury. The technique uses a “dry” needle, one that has no medication or injection in it. The needle is inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle, which are called trigger points.

  • A trigger point is a band of skeletal muscle located within a larger muscle group. Trigger points can be tender to touch. Touching a trigger point may cause pain to other parts of the body.
  • Dry needling uses a thin, solid filament needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate trigger points in the muscles. Using the needle, a physical therapist targets tissues that they cannot treat as easily manually. It is typically one technique that’s part of a larger treatment plan.

Dry needling can give longer lasting relief than massage. The needles do not hurt going in because they are very fine and solid. The needles only stay in long enough to relax the muscle. The amount of needles you will need, or sessions of dry needling, depends largely on the amount of pain you have, and the amount of areas you need work done on. You may feel slightly sore after dry needling, but within a period of a few hours to a day, you will feel less pain and tightness in the muscles, and you’ll notice improvement in chronic injuries.

Goals of Dry Needling

The goal of dry needling is to release or inactivate trigger points to relieve pain or improve range of motion. Dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, and normalizes dysfunctions of the motor end plates, the sites at which nerve impulses are transmitted to muscles. This can help speed up the patient’s return to active rehabilitation.

Dry needling is typically used for these purposes:

  • Give you lasting pain relief
  • Eliminate muscle tension, wherever you hold it
  • Heal overuse injuries
  • Remove “knots” in muscles
  • Help muscles heal after injury
  • Speed healing time
  • Improve blood flow
  • Stimulate a muscle to work better
  • Prevent injuries before they happen
  • Help patients resume exercising
  • Heal chronic injuries of muscles, tendons and joints