Dry Needling – A Quick Overview

What is Trigger Point Dry Needling (TDN)?

Dry needling is an effective therapy performed for the purpose of treating muscle tension and spasms, which commonly accompany conditions such as arthritis, nerve irritation, muscle strains, ligament sprains and herniated disks. TDN uses a small monofilament needle, which is inserted by a trained physical therapist into a trigger point (contracted painful knotted muscle fiber) in an effort to create a local twitch response in order to exhaust and release the muscle fibers. Sounds painful right? You’d be surprised that it actually isn’t that painful at all. Trigger Point Dry Needling is used in conjunction with manual therapy techniques and individually prescribed therapeutic exercise programs.

How are Dry Needling and Acupuncture Different?

No one profession “owns” the technique. Both Physical therapists and acupuncturists use needles as an intervention to treat their patient’s pain. “These two techniques differ in terms of historical, philosophical, indicative and practical context. The performance of modern dry needling by physical therapists is based on western neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Physical therapists who perform dry needling do not use traditional acupuncture theories or acupuncture terminology.”


APTA document Physical Therapists & the Performance of Dry Needling” An Educational Resource Paper. www.apta.org/StateIssues/DryNeedling/.