Dry Needling

Dry Needling


Article by John Miller


Dry Needling

An Effective Physiotherapy Technique

Understanding Dry Needling

Dry needling, a technique used by physiotherapists, involves inserting a sterile, fine filament needle into muscle tissue. This method targets myofascial trigger points, often described as knots in muscle, to alleviate pain and enhance function. Unlike acupuncture, which is rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine, dry needling bases its approach on Western anatomical and neurophysiological principles.

The Science Behind Myofascial Trigger Points

A myofascial trigger point develops when muscle fibres remain contracted, leading to tightness and tension. This sustained contraction can result in hypersensitivity, pain, and reduced mobility. Factors like injury, poor posture, overuse, stress, and even nutritional deficiencies can contribute to the formation of these trigger points.

The Mechanism of Dry Needling

During dry needling, the insertion of a needle into a trigger point can elicit a reflex that relaxes contracted muscle fibres, thereby improving range of motion and reducing pain. This technique not only releases the trigger point but also enhances blood flow, providing the muscle with essential nutrients and oxygen.

When to Consider Dry Needling

Physiotherapists may recommend dry needling for various conditions, including myofascial trigger points, pain management, muscle injuries, sports injuries, and chronic conditions like fibromyalgia. It’s vital to seek a trained professional for this invasive therapy.

The Patient Experience

During treatment, patients might feel a range of sensations, from mild discomfort to twitching. These are typically brief and indicate that the muscle is responding to the treatment. While side effects like soreness or bruising can occur, they are usually short-lived.

Dry Needling in Rehabilitation

Dry needling can be an integral part of a rehabilitation program, either as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with other physiotherapy techniques. Its role is to manage pain, improve joint mobility, and release myofascial trigger points as part of a tailored treatment plan.

Safety and Post-Treatment Care

While generally safe, dry needling can cause side effects like bruising or fainting. Post-treatment, it’s advisable to avoid strenuous activities to maximise the benefits. Most symptoms resolve within 24 to 48 hours.

Conditions Benefited by Dry Needling

Dry needling can be effective for a range of conditions, including:

A thorough assessment by a healthcare professional is essential to determine its suitability.


Dry needling, a scientifically grounded technique, offers significant benefits in the management of musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. It should be performed by qualified physiotherapists as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

What to Do Next?

If you’re experiencing pain or limited mobility, consider consulting a physiotherapist about dry needling. At PhysioWorks, our qualified professionals can guide you through the process, ensuring a treatment plan that aligns with your unique needs and goals. Remember, individual responses to treatment vary, and a tailored approach is key to effective rehabilitation.

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