Dry needling is safe, minimally discomforting and often an effective technique for patients with
certain musculoskeletal presentations. Dry needling is performed by skilled and certified in the
procedure physiotherapist using a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying
myofascial trigger points, muscular and connective tissues. Once inserted the needles are
manipulated by the Physiotherapist until a sensation is felt (often a twitch and/or ache associated
with the needle). Techniques vary from inserting the needle and leaving it in for 15 minutes or so
with occasional manipulation.
The way it works is through complex neural pathways and chemical releases in the body. A
simplified explanation follows:
• A local flow of blood is promoted to the injured part for healing.
• The neural pathway that causes pain is inhibited or ‘blocked’ to some extent.
• Endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers) are released to ease the pain and inhibit the pain/
inflammatory cycle.
What is a Trigger Point?
A trigger point is a taut band of skeletal muscle located within a larger muscle group. Trigger points
can be tender to the touch, and touching a trigger point may cause pain to other parts of the body
What is the difference between Dry Needling and acupuncture?
Both acupuncture and Dry Needling use a solid filament needle; however, the uses of a solid
filament needle for acupuncture and Dry Needling are very different. The differences are evident in
the evaluative tools used by the practitioner, the assessment, the application, and the overall
intended goal. Acupuncture is a treatment based on Eastern medical diagnosis requiring training in
traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The TCM practitioner inserts needles into specific points that
lie along meridians (channels) of the body through which the life force, or “qi” (pronounced
“chee”), flows. The overall goal of TCM acupuncture is to restore normal flow of the life force. In
contrast, Dry Needling is rooted in Western medical philosophy. DN revolves around a practitioner
using a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points
and muscular and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and
movement impairments.
What is the current evidence regarding the effectiveness of DN?
Numerous studies indicate support for Dry Needling in cases of myofascial pain syndromes,
spasticity as a result of stroke, shoulder pain, golf/tennis elbow, heel pain, jaw pain and many
Why Dry Needling?

In cases when physiotherapist applies dry needling, it is typically technique that’s part of a larger
treatment plan – not solely a treatment on its own. Dry needling are used to release or inactivate
trigger points to relieve pain or improve range of motion. Preliminary research supports that dry
needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, and normalizes dysfunctions of the motor
end plates, the sites at which nerve impulses are transmitted to muscles. This can help speed up the
patient’s return to active rehabilitation.