Dry Needling Techniques


What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a specialised technique used by our Physiotherapists to help reduce pain, muscle spasm and inflammation, and to accelerate the recovery of injuries to muscles, tendons, fascia, and ligaments. Dry needling also helps improve blood circulation thereby accelerating the healing process. Dry needling is also known as myofascial trigger point dry needling.

What Conditions can Dry Needling Treat?

As part of an overall treatment strategy, combined with other physiotherapy techniques like manual therapy, dry needling can help a variety of conditions, for example:

  • Acute or chronic soft tissue injuries
  • Headaches
  • Neck/Back pain
  • Tendonitis/tendonosis
  • Muscle spasm
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle strains
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Tennis or golfer’s elbow
  • Patella Tendon Pain Syndrome (PTPS)
  • Overuse injuries
  • Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS)

What is the Difference Between Dry Needling and Acupuncture?

The objectives and philosophy behind the use of modern dry needling by Physiotherapists is based on Western Neuroanatomy and the scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. It is not based on traditional Chinese medicine.

With dry needling, needles are inserted into specific trigger points around the injured or painful area. Needles are left in for a very short period of time and are generally part of an overall treatment plan.

With acupuncture, needles are inserted into points along meridian lines. These lines represent the body’s organs, based on ancient Chinese medicine with the principal of restoring the proper flow of energy throughout the body. Acupuncture needles are usually left in place for 15 to 30 minutes. It is most often used to treat internal ailments, including digestive problems, insomnia, stress and chronic pain. Acupuncture is generally performed as a standalone treatment.

Is Dry Needling Safe?

Understandably, some patients can be quite concerened about the use of needling but, in reality, it is generally quite safe. Our Physiotherapists have undergone specialist training, and along with their extensive understanding of the musculoskeletal system they are the ideal practitioners to perform dry needling. Minor side effects like mild soreness or bruising may be experienced by some patients.

Our Physiotherapists adhere to a strict code of conduct for the prevention of spread of infection and safely use and dispose of all needles.

Is Dry Needling Painful?

Most people do not feel the needles being inserted, but if the muscle fibres are sensitive or shortened due to injury or have hyperactive trigger points, you may feel a sensation similar to a muscle cramp called a “twitch response”.

However, it is important to let your practitioner know about your medical history,  current condition, personal pain threshold, and past experiences with needles. This way, your Physiotherapist can evaluate the appropriateness of dry needling, specific to your case.

Can Dry Needling Replace Other Forms of Treatment?

Unlike acupuncture, dry needling is rarely used as a standalone treatment and is normally part of an overall treatment strategy. When you apply multiple treatment techniques you are more likely to gain a faster and more effective recovery.

Your Physiotherapist will discuss the most suitable treatment plan with you at the time of your appointment.

How Does Dry Needling Work?

Dry needling involves the insertion of incredibly thin needles into muscle trigger points which are focal points of spasm or “knots” within the muscle fibres. This in turn elicits a response that releases the active trigger point to restore normal function. Needles may also be inserted in or around tendons or ligaments to help promote healing, reduce inflammation and increase blood flow.

Do all Physiotherapists use Dry Needling?

Not all Physiotherapists use dry needling, but it is rapidly gaining popularity due to its effectiveness. Our Physiotherapists are required to complete a registered training course in dry needling, including a minimum of 20 hours of practice, prior to integrating dry needling into their treatment plan.

How often do I need Dry Needling?

The answer to this varies depending on your condition. Your Physiotherapist will advise you as to how many sessions you require which will depend on your injury or pain.

If you would like to make an appointment or speak to a Physiotherapist click to call us on 0131 218 3000 or email: info@thephysiotherapyclinics.com.