Dry needling is a simple and effective method for reducing muscle knots sometimes called trigger points. After putting on nitrile gloves, a Physical Therapist will insert a sterile needle into the knot to stimulate a reflex of relaxation. There is usually a muscle twitch and/or an achy sensation. This releases the tension built up in the knot. It’s like pressing a “reset” button on stubborn, tight muscles.

Here are 3 reasons why this technique is so effective.

  1. Improves blood flow
  2. Reduces inflammation and pain causing chemicals
  3. Communication with the nervous system

What are the benefits of Dry Needling?

Muscle knots can become a hindrance to movement and comfort. Not only can they can cause pain to radiate away from the knot, they can compress joints, nerves, and tendons which create other diagnoses. Dry needling helps reduce pain, improve joint range of motion, and improve strength. This is all done through releasing the deep tension built up in knots.

Here is a chart showing what My PT considers.

Indication Benefit
Soft tissue restriction Releases
Local pain Reduces
Referred pain Reduces
Headaches Reduces
Mobility, flexibility, ROM loss Improves
Muscle knots/trigger points Relaxes
Scar tissue Breaksdown
Muscle firing Resets
Muscle spasm Relaxes

What problems can Dry Needling help with?

Dry needling helps reduce pain caused by stubborn muscle tension. Most clients don’t know what is causing their pain so they may think it’s caused by a muscle. My PT uses Needles from head to toe to treat pain. It works great for headaches, migraines, sciatica, arthritic joints, degenerative disc disease, rotator cuff impingement, and tendinitis.

Is Dry Needling right for me?

If you have muscle knots, cramps, spasms or scar tissue, this may be right for you. We call these spots “issues in the tissues”. Our Physical Therapist can find these issues by “strumming” the muscle like a guitar string. If there is a sensitive area, the muscle will twitch, indicating a trigger point.

The other way to know if dry needling is an option is if nothing else seems to help. Really. Many cases that should try it are the ones that are not getting better with stretching, massage and chiropractic. Stubborn knots need special care from dry needling. Learn more technical information here.

When will I notice a difference from Dry Needling?

Many times, instant changes, and sometimes between 1-2 weeks. The purpose is to treat symptoms like pain, tightness, stiffness, weakness, numbness, and tingling. It can help improve range of motion, joint mobility, muscle coordination and strength.

What does it feel like to be Dry Needled?

The top response to this question when Dr. Tom asks his clients is “weird”. You may never have experienced a muscle twitch like this before. Usually, achyness is the sensation to expect. The response to needling a bad knot for the first time can be larger than the follow up treatments. Read about a personal story here.

What do I do after a session with Dry Needling?

Drink plenty of water. This helps re-hydrate tissues and reduces the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness after a session. Still, soreness may develop after the session and moist heat can help you feeling comfortable. Even running a warm shower can sooth muscle aches.

What are the side effects of Dry Needling?

Clients usually experience muscle soreness afterwards. Occasionally a person may develop a bruise. Most people stay active and don’t need to rest. There have been a few cases out of hundreds when a person felt sleepy afterwards. We encourage drinking extra water the same day of treatment. Also, using moist heat in the form of a pack or shower can help to ease discomfort.

There are more serious side effects of Dry Needling. At My PT, we follow safe practices to significantly reduce those those risks. There is a chance of infection, bleeding, nerve damage, or lunge puncture. This is why we do not recommend Dry Needling yourself.

In rare cases, apply ice or a cold pack where a welt develops. Sometimes bruising occurs or you could feel a raise bump under the skin.

Can I Dry Needle myself?

We don’t recommend that. We take extra care to prevent serious harm. Not only is this an invasive treatment, the technique takes special practice to have safe and confident treatment skills.

What else should I NOT do?

Minimize caffeine levels. Too much caffeine could cause unwanted discomfort due to dehydration.

Also, don’t drink lots of alcohol after Dry Needling. It will also dehydrate the body and the muscle knot will be craving water. Feed your muscles water after Dry Needling.

Don’t have deep tissue massage after treatment. Wait 1-2 days because it will likely make it swollen and painful. Just ask your massage therapist to work around the areas that were needled.