What is it ?
Dry needling is a technique involving the insertion of a solid filament needle into a myofascial trigger point (commonly known as a knot). This is an effective way to treat myofascial pain ( also known as
muscle pain) and dysfunction caused by these “knots”.
Myofascial trigger points are tender nodules in a taut band of muscle which are
generated by overuse, over-stretching or overloading of a muscle.
There are 2 types of trigger points:
Active: One that causes pain and symptoms when pressure is applied on the trigger point.
Latent: One that is only tender when pressure is put on it. The patient will not recognise this as their pain.
Dry needling is only used to treat muscle issues that appear to contribute directly to the
patients pain and symptoms.
The body recognises the needle as invasive and send the bodys healing cells to the
Why is it called Dry needling ?
There is no medicine in the needle hence, the word dry needle.
What it feels like?
Most people do not feel the insertion of the needle but then may feel a dull achy feeling.
You may then feel a twitch / spasm or a cramp in the muscle called a local twitch
response. The local twitch response will elicit a very brief sensation. The exact
mechanisms of dry needling are not known. We do know that inserting the needling into
the trigger point cause favourable changes in the biochemical make-up of the trigger
point (Shah et al 2008). You may experience some stiffness for 48 hours after treatment.
But this is a good sign that your body is starting to heal the area.
To get optimal results it is not advisable to exercise after treatment but your
physiotherapist will advise you on appropriate stretches. Usually you will see an increase
in flexibility of the muscle treated straight away. It can take up to two days to see an
improvement with your pain. One may need a few sessions to get a full pain free result.
Sometimes, you may experience bruising or post treatment soreness. Rare side effects
include nausea, dizziness or fatigue.