Dry needling is a treatment that involves penetrating the skin with needles. It uses the same type of needles used in acupuncture, but is not an injection and does not contain any medication. Its only purpose is to penetrate muscle knots called trigger points.
Trigger points are sensitive and can cause pain or dysfunction throughout the body. They are considered the primary source of pain for many conditions, including fibromyalgia, which is a chronic condition that causes pain and tenderness throughout the muscles. It is also helpful for treating myofascial pain syndrome, which causes a tight band of muscle in the body.
During the procedure, your physical therapist will insert the needle into the muscle directly into the trigger point. They may move the needle around to get a local twitch response, a quick spasm of the muscle that can be felt as a painful or cramping sensation. This is a good sign that the muscle is reacting and working to relieve the tension.
After a few treatments, patients can often see improvement in their muscle stiffness and pain levels. It depends on the severity of the symptoms and how long they have been occurring, but in most cases, multiple sessions will be needed to get the best results.
There are some conditions that do not benefit from dry needling, like if you have a bleeding disorder or are on blood thinners. It is also not recommended for people who have a severe needle phobia (trypanophobia). Patients with a history of nerve damage or central sensitization are not candidates for dry needling.