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  • Writer's pictureMatt Kurz PT, DPT

Dry Needling: Is It Right for You?

Dry needling is an effective treatment for acute and chronic pain, rehabilitation from injury, and injury prevention. This technique is gaining widespread popularity because it has proven to be an extremely effective technique with minimal side effects.


What is Dry Needling?

“Dry needling is a treatment provided by physical therapists that uses a thin, monafilament needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular tissues, and connective tissues for the management of neuromuscular pain and movement impairments” (American Physical Therapy Association Official Statement on Dry Needling).

Myofascial trigger points are knots in muscles that can contribute to pain, decreased flexibility and decreased muscle function. Dry needling is an effective and efficient method of eliminating trigger points, especially when other manual soft tissue techniques are unable to directly release these areas. Dry needling is also used to treat tendinopathies thus promoting healthy muscle length. All of this is aimed to aid the rehabilitation process, reduce pain and prevent future injury.


How does Dry Needling differ from Acupuncture?

Traditional Chinese acupuncture utilizes the belief that energy, “qi” circulates through the body's meridians. Acupuncturists insert needles into specific points to restore the balance and flow of the body's qi. While the dry needling method does use similar needles to acupuncture, it differs by selecting specific trigger points or damaged tissue identified following an initial examination. Dry needling aims to deactivate these trigger points by treating the specific muscle or connective tissue directly, rather than meridians.


Does Dry Needling Hurt?

Most patients have an report mild aching or pinching pain during dry needling that is quickly relieved. We use a monofilament needle, which is much smaller than the needles used to draw blood or give a vaccination, thus greatly reducing the pain generally associated with needles. Once the needle reaches the muscle, most patients will describe a twitch sensation followed by a dull ache that typically lasts a few minutes. As the muscle relaxes, the deep aching sensation will begin to dissipate. Mild to moderate muscular soreness for up to 24 hours post needling can occur.


Do I have to be a patient receiving physical therapy in order to receive dry needling?

At this time we require you to be a physical therapy patient to receive dry needling. Dry needling is part of a comprehensive treatment plan of care established at the initial evaluation. Dry needling is most effective when combined with physical therapy treatment to address the initial cause of your symptoms.


Will dry needling be covered by my insurance?

At this time most insurance companies do not cover dry needling. To cover the expense of the therapist time and materials a $20 fee is charged when needling is performed. If you are unable to afford the additional fee but are interested in trying dry needling please let us know.

If you are interested in dry needling or have any more questions please contact us at 603-273-1570 or email us at

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