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Dry needling is a hot topic in sports medicine and physical therapy rehabilitation these days.  Is this just a growing trend or a strong treatment option here to stay? Let’s get to the POINT!

Dry needling is a skilled treatment technique that uses a thin filiform needle to reach deeper into muscles and myofascial trigger points than any manual massage technique can. It was developed in the 1940’s by Dr. Janet Travell, who was the leader of trigger point and myofascial pain research and treatment techniques.  It allows Physical Therapists to get where their hands alone can’t reach. Research supports a strong history of speeding up the body’s healing process. It has effectively demonstrated results in the treatment of:

  1. Acute/Chronic Low back and neck pain

  2. Headaches

  3. Sprains and strains

  4. Shoulder pain & frozen shoulder

  5. Restricted joint range of motion

  6. Neuropathies & radiculopathies

  7. Plantar Fasciitis

  8. Acute swelling, especially ankle and knee sprains

Dry needling alone is never a magic bullet, but rather should be coupled with soft tissue massage and mobilization, fascial release, exercises to re-educate the flexibility and strength of the muscles and instruction in self care techniques for tissue releases. It is not currently covered by all insurance plans, but has shown it’s value as an added therapeutic tool.

Taken all together this treatment plan hits the foundation of one’s body to facilitate its  own healing process. The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Therapy has published many case studies and every single one of them reports the same results, a person’s functional mobility is restored much more quickly when dry needling is incorporated as part of their treatment protocol thus proving the POINT that dry needling is a strong therapeutic tool to help restore mobility, strength and decrease pain faster than traditional techniques alone.

Not all medical or physical therapy professionals are trained to perform the Integrative Dry Needling treatment technique.

The physical therapists at TheraPilates Fitness have advanced certification through the Integrative Dry Needling Institute. 

How does it work?

Integrative dry needling is not acupuncture (traditional Chinese medicine), it is based on neuroanatomy and modern scientific studies of the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. A very fine filament needle is inserted through the skin and into the deeper tissues that are considered trigger points to your pain. Dry needling works by causing a micro lesion within the pathological tissue thus breaking up shortened tissues, inhibiting a reflex arc from the nervous system to the tissue, normalizing the inflammatory response, and centrally mediating the pain. This mechanical and neuromuscular effect provides an environment that enhances the body's ability to heal which ultimately reduces pain.


What conditions can be treated?

Conditions include, but are not limited to neck, back and shoulder pain, arm pain (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, golfer's elbow), headaches including migraines and tension-type headaches, jaw pain, buttock pain and leg pain (sciatica, hamstring strains, calf tightness/spasms).


Are the needles sterile?

Yes, we only use sterile, disposable needles.


Is the procedure painful?

The fine filament needle is very thin, solid and flexible, which allows for the needle to be pushed through the skin versus cutting the skin. This helps reduce any discomfort that may occur with the procedure. We strive to make the treatment virtually painless however at times a local twitch response of the muscle may be felt. When the needle is inserted into the pathological tissue the local twitch response sensation is normal and is felt only momentarily. Many patients describe this twitch response as a little electric shock, cramp or an ache sensation. These sensations are perfectly normal and even a desirable response. Your PT will make every effort to make your experience comfortable and therapeutic.

How will I feel after the Dry Needling treatment?

This will vary but many patients experience immediate relief of their symptoms and an increase in range of motion. Soreness can also be a common response from the needling but does not occur with all people. Some individuals may experience an immediate achiness or a delayed soreness the next day. The soreness, if present, will usually last 1-2 days, use of heat and light massage and movement will be beneficial. Mild bruising may occur at the needling sites and is more prevalent in certain parts of the body. Larger bruising may also occur, but is rare. Application of ice on the bruise will help with the soreness and the skin discoloration will last several days but is not harmful. It is uncommon but possible that the treatment may temporarily increase your symptoms. This is not usual but if this continues past the 1-2 day window, inform your PT to allow adjustment of your program to enhance your comfort the next time. This does not mean that needling will not be beneficial to your condition. 

Will I continue to do exercises or receive other treatments?

Yes, your personalized physical therapy program will still integrate traditional physical therapy methods including manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, endurance training, stabilization and posture training. 

How many treatments will I need?

This will depend on the category you fit in, which is determined by the state of the injury and your overall health. Remember we are attempting to cause mechanical and biochemical changes without any pharmacological means. Therefore, we are looking for a cumulative response to break the pain cycle. Your PT will be able to give you more insight after your evaluation. 

What should I do to prepare for the treatment?

  • Do not eat 30 minutes before the treatment.

  • Be well hydrated but empty your bladder prior to treatment.

  • Wear loose fitting clothing, shorts, or bathing suit for easy access to your painful areas.

What should/can I do after treatment, what should I avoid?

Our recommendations vary depending on the amount of soreness you have and on the individual response to the treatment. Recommendations may include increasing your water intake, applying heat or ice over the area, gentle stretches and modifications to activities.


Integrative Dry Needling is an additional service that will be performed in conjunction to your manual therapy and or therapeutic exercise session to facilitate its benefits. It will be performed during your 55 minute session. There is an additional $25 fee with this service.

*If you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, a minimum of 24 hours is required or a $60 cancellation fee will be charged.

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