How can Dry Needling help you find pain relief?

by | Jul 30, 2022 | Articles, Physical Therapy

Physical therapists use a variety of treatment techniques to help patients find relief from joint and muscle pain.

The goal of hands-on manual therapies is to deepen relaxation, decrease pain, decrease inflammation, and increase flexibility without the use of devices or machines. Soft tissue mobilization is used to help loosen muscles that affect the joints.

At INVIVO Wellness, our team of physical therapists uses hands-on manual therapies of joint and spine mobilizations/manipulations, myofascial release, craniosacral therapy, massage and stretching techniques, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, kinesiotaping, therapeutic exercise programs, self-management recommendations, and dry needling.

What is Dry Needling?

Dry Needling is a manual therapy technique used by licensed physical therapists to treat acute and chronic pain and improve movement restrictions. It is typically part of a larger treatment plan. This treatment involves inserting a very thin needle into a trigger point. The term “dry” in the name indicates that there is no injected substance in the needle. 

Why Dry Needling?

The release of a trigger point can improve the range of motion of a specific joint, improve the strength of the muscle by facilitating improved muscular recruitment or reduce local or referred pain. It can help speed up a patient’s healing process.

What is a Trigger Point?

Dry needling targets specific trigger points, or taut bands, in muscles. Trigger points in muscles can cause local pain, referred pain (or pain in a different area of the body), loss of range of motion, and loss of strength and function.

While dry needling is generally focused on releasing trigger points, it can also be used to treat scar tissue. Scar dry needling is a specialty technique used to reduce scar sensitivity and range of motion restriction caused by scar tissue adhesions. Breaking up scar tissue and adhesions will allow joints and muscles to move more freely enabling the patient to perform activities without limitations.

What is the Dry Needling process?

physical therapy dry needling shoulder

During a dry needling session, you can expect your provider to first identify trigger points that are contributing to your symptoms. 

Next, your provider inserts very thin needles into the muscle belly to mechanically release the trigger point. 

Needles are inserted into the muscle for approximately 5-10 seconds as the therapist moves the needle from the muscle belly to the subcutaneous layer to target the identified trigger point. 

The number of needles and the size of needles varies based on the patient and the muscle being treated. 

The physical therapist wears gloves and personal protective equipment when dry needling. Sterile needles are used that are disposed of in a medical sharps collector.

Are there any side effects to Dry Needling?

The most common side-effects of dry needling are muscle soreness for 1-2 days following the session and/or minor bleeding or bruising. The result of the dry needling session usually takes up to 1-2 days to take full effect. Your physical therapist will generally give you stretching or strengthening to pair with your dry needling session to maximize the effects of the treatment.

How is Dry Needling different from Acupuncture?

Dry needling should not be confused with acupuncture, as the two differ in both technique and theory. Acupuncture has a background in Chinese Medicine to stimulate areas of the body based on meridian lines. With acupuncture, the needles are kept in the body for a sustained period of time. Both methods can be used to relieve symptoms of a variety of patients.


INVIVO Wellness offers a whole-body approach to physical therapy meeting the needs of all age groups. Our therapists specialize in evaluating and treating disorders of the joints, muscles, fascia, and nerves that prevent normal movement, cause pain, and limit an active lifestyle.

Treatment plans may include hands-on manual therapies of joint and spine mobilizations/manipulations, massage and stretching techniques, electrical stimulation, therapeutic exercise programs, dry needling, and self-management recommendations. Ensure you can enjoy the benefits of an active, pain-free lifestyle.

Anna Grassman, DPT performs dry needling at INVIVO Wellness.

Schedule an evaluation appointment with INVIVO Wellness physical therapy today. Our physical therapists also offer a complimentary screening to see if physical therapy is the best option for you.

INVIVO Holiday Gift Card Sale 2022

INVIVO Holiday Gift Card Sale 2022

Give the gift of wellness this holiday season with a Gift Card from INVIVO Wellness. Treat yourself, your family, and your friends to some well-deserved self-care. Sale starts Thursday, Dec. 15!

read more