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What is dry needling?

Use of a sterile needle (hypodermic or solid filament) to stimulate a tissue. Frequently used terms include trigger point dry needling (interaction with fibers within a muscle that provide a referral of symptoms when provoked), functional dry needling (interaction with intention to change mobility and or strength), and intramuscular manual therapy.

The most common tissue intended for treatment is muscle, with application of treatment where small nerve fibers stimulate the muscle. For the purposes of my treatment I would strictly use a sterile solid point needle with interaction at muscles only.


The procedure is often confused with trigger point injections (injection of a substance after identification of the nerve to muscle interface) and with the Traditional Chinese Medicine technique of acupuncture.

Benefits of Dry Needling

Risks of dry needling

Return muscles with involuntary increased tension to normal tension


Normalize mobility (immediate and lasting response)


Normalize strength (immediate and lasting response)


Reduce or resolve pain - at rest or with activity (may be immediate or delayed due to soreness up to 1 day)

The intention of trigger point injections and dry needling is the same; the rationale for using a substance would be based on the substance used. One of the benefits of dry needling over trigger point injection is the lack of ‘false positive’ interactions when anesthetic is used for trigger point injections.

Common temporary side effects are momentary pain with the initial skin puncture (possible to not feel the puncture, but also possible to find a nerve ending in the skin), very temporary provocation of symptoms (30 to 60 seconds, then improving overall with light movement), bruising (interaction with a smaller blood vessel), and soreness that will last up to a day (typically minutes to hours).


Potential risks that are less common include temporary lightheadedness/dizziness, fainting, and temporary tingling / referral of pain.


Potential risks that are rare (less than 1 in 1,000 encounters) include infection, nerve injury, and pneumothorax.

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