Dry needling is an effective pain management technique that focuses on trigger points (knotted areas in muscle fibers, often called “muscle knots”). These muscles can restrict movement and cause local or referred pain. Dry needling is performed by physical therapists who are trained in the procedure. It is typically a part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes manual therapy, therapeutic exercises and other techniques to manage pain.
A common misconception is that dry needling is similar to acupuncture; however, it is not a form of acupuncture. Instead, dry needling uses sterile needles that are placed directly into the muscle to help improve function and reduce pain. This technique is very effective for a variety of neuromuscular conditions, including neck and back pain, athletic injuries, fibromyalgia, and more.
Your therapist will use fine, solid filament needles to stimulate a myofascial muscle, often resulting in a twitch response. This process is very precise and is usually not painful, though some patients can experience a slight discomfort when the needle is inserted. The procedure is very effective and usually only takes a few minutes.
Some medical insurance plans cover the cost of dry needling for musculoskeletal conditions, so it is worth checking with yours. Your physical therapist can recommend the right coverage options for you. The American Physical Therapy Association has a chart that highlights which states allow, prohibit or have no specific provisions on dry needling for physical therapists. For more information, you can also visit the Structure and Function Dry Needling website.dry needling canton