Dry Needling

Dry Needling

John Miller Physiotherapist

Article by John Miller

Dry Needling

An Effective Physiotherapy Technique


As practicing physiotherapists, we regularly witness the transformative effects of dry needling on patients grappling with various musculoskeletal issues. This technique, which involves the precise insertion of a fine needle into specific muscle tissues, has gained considerable attention for its effectiveness in alleviating pain and enhancing mobility.

Understanding Dry Needling

Dry Needling targets myofascial trigger points, commonly referred to as muscle knots. These points are often the epicentres of muscle pain and can limit movement. Unlike acupuncture, dry needling is based on modern Western medical principles, focusing on anatomical and neurophysiological theories.

The Science Behind Myofascial Trigger Points

Myofascial trigger points develop from prolonged muscle contraction, leading to tightness, tension, and pain. These can arise from various causes, including injury, stress, or even nutritional deficiencies.

How Dry Needling Works

In dry needling, inserting a needle into a trigger point can trigger a reflex that relaxes the muscle. This process not only alleviates pain but also improves blood circulation, providing essential nutrients and oxygen to the affected area.

When to Consider Dry Needling

We may recommend dry needling for a range of conditions, such as chronic pain, muscle injuries, sports injuries, and conditions like fibromyalgia. However, it’s crucial to seek treatment from a trained professional due to the invasive nature of the therapy.

Patient Experiences During Treatment

Patients may experience a spectrum of sensations, from a slight prick to a muscle twitch, indicating an effective response. While side effects like soreness or bruising are common, they typically resolve quickly.

Dry Needling in Rehabilitation

Dry needling is an invaluable component of rehabilitation programs. It works effectively both as a standalone treatment and in conjunction with other physiotherapy techniques. Its key roles include managing pain, improving joint mobility, and releasing myofascial trigger points.

Recent Dry Needling Research

Recent research, such as the 2023 study by Chys et al., demonstrates the effectiveness of dry needling in reducing pain across various body regions in the short term. It is more effective than no treatment or placebo in improving pain intensity (Chys et al., 2023).

Safety and Post-Treatment Care

Dry needling is generally safe, but like any treatment, it can have side effects. Patients are advised to avoid strenuous activities immediately after treatment to maximise the benefits. Most symptoms dissipate 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.

In Conclusion

Dry needling is a scientifically-backed technique that offers significant benefits in managing musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. As a qualified physiotherapist, I strongly advocate its use as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

What to Do Next?

If you’re experiencing pain or limited mobility, consulting a physiotherapist trained in dry needling can be a beneficial step. At PhysioWorks, our team of qualified professionals can provide a customised treatment plan to meet your unique needs and goals. Remember, individual responses to treatment vary, and a personalised approach is crucial for effective rehabilitation.

For more information and to understand how dry needling can benefit you, visit PhysioWorks. Here, you’ll find a wealth of resources and can book an appointment with one of our skilled physiotherapists who is trained in dry needling.

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