Dry Needling In Physical Therapy

What is Dry Needling?  


Dry needling (DN) is a treatment to help myofascial pain using microfilament needles. There is no injection of medication with dry needling treatments. These needles are inserted areas of muscle referred to as trigger points (TRPs). TRPs are described as tight bands of skeletal muscle. Their location is within a larger muscle group. TRPs are often the source of pain within muscle tissue. 

The goal of dry needling is to release these TRPs to restore optimal movement.  Therefore, to improve the quality of life.  By reducing pain that could be restricting the range of motion or a person’s ability to function.  

Watch this VIDEO to learn more about Dry Needling in Physical Therapy.

Image of physical therapist inserting a microfilament needle for dry needling treatmentDry Needling in Physical Therapy

Is Dry Needling The Same as Acupuncture?

Dry needling is not acupuncture or Oriental Medicine.  It does not have the purpose of altering the flow of energy (“Qi”- pronounced chee) along traditional Chinese Meridians to treat diseases.  If you have an interest in Acupuncture, JOI also offers this service at our San Marco location.

Dry needling is a modern, science-based intervention that strictly focuses on pain and dysfunction in muscles and other orthopedic issues.

What is a Trigger Point?  

A trigger point is when muscle tissue becomes damaged or injured is can sometimes be related to incorrect signaling to the muscle from the nerve. This impaired communication between the nerve and muscle can result in the formation of trigger points (TRPs). TRPs block blood flow to the muscle resulting in a shortage of oxygen. This causes a lack of oxygen to the muscle. The lack of oxygen to muscle tissue leads to inflammation and pain. If your body is unable to correct this process and start healing, scar tissue forms. Scar tissue formation is often the cause of chronic pain.  

Image of back and buttocks muscle anatomy with yellow dots making trigger point locationsCommon Trigger Point Locations

How Does Dry Needling Help Trigger Points?

Dry needling essentially reverses that process by disrupting the trigger points. Disruption of a trigger point activates a cycle in the body to correct the improper signaling between muscle and nerve. Sometimes when the TRP is directly disrupted, a muscle twitch is evoked. Research has also shown that needle insertion into muscle tissue causes the release of hormones in the body that combat pain and inflammation. This process can result in immediate and short-term pain relief.  


What Injuries Does Dry Needling Treat?  

Dry needling can be used to treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal injuries.

  • neck pain                                                           medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow),
  • headaches                                                        knee pain 
  • shoulder impingement                                    low back pain,
  • lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)              Achilles tendinitis 
  • plantar fasciitis.

 As of right now, the Florida Physical Therapy Association (FPTA) only authorizes physical therapists to insert needles into muscle tissue. Therefore, injuries related to connective tissue or neural tissue are not allowed. If you have been diagnosed with a muscle injury or an orthopedic dysfunction by your doctor, there is a chance that dry needling could be beneficial to treat the impairment and alleviate pain.  


Does Dry Needling Hurt?

Dry needling can be uncomfortable at times.  The feeling associated with needle insertion into muscle tissue is brief and bearable. When the needle penetrates the skin, a minor pinch can be felt. Physical therapists trained in dry needling are taught how to make this process more comfortable for clients. 

When TRPs are disrupted, people have reported a short-lived shock, shooting sensation, or a dull ache. These symptoms typically resolve within seconds.

by: Adam Hutchison, PT, DPT, Site Coordinator

Dry Needling Near Me

Dry needling is an effective treatment for pain and can assist with faster recovery. Let JOI help get you on the road to recovery. Dry needling is currently available at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute's Nassau Rehab location. To book an appointment for dry needling visit JOIonline.net or call 904-557-9021.



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