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Dry Needling: What is it? Is it safe?

What Is Dry Needling?

Popular in the recovery and pain management world, “dry needling” may have entered your vocabulary at some point. Even if you are familiar with it, it is unlikely that you know all about it and what to expect. Simply put, dry needling is an extremely effective method to treat pain and dysfunction in all areas of the body. Here is a list of questions we get asked most often about dry needling!



What do you use it for?

That is the great thing about dry needling, you can use it for so many things! We use it most often to reduce pain in an area, and improve mobility. Since the needles can be inserted into almost any part of the body, the list of issues we can treat are nearly endless. Here is a brief list of a variety of issues that dry needling can address.

  • Decreased mobility and Feelings of stiffness/tightness
  • Trigger points
  • Acute swelling (think a swollen ankle after you roll it)
  • Headaches and neck pain
  • Rotator cuff and shoulder pain
  • Low back pain
  • Tennis and golfer’s elbow
  • Hamstring strains
  • Quad and thigh muscle strains
  • Heel and achilles pain
  • And MUCH more

This is by no means a complete list of everything that dry needling helps, so if you have an injury and want to know if dry needling is right for you, book a free 15 minute phone call!


How does Dry Needling work?

It’s pretty simple actually, the needles are inserted to stimulate surrounding nerve fibers that communicate with your brain and change the way your body perceives pain. The needle also stimulates your body to pay extra attention to that area and create a short term healing response to improve the tissue quality. Each needle is specifically chosen based on size and inserted into specific areas to produce the response we want.

Let’s say you have constant shoulder pain... The shoulder and the surrounding areas will be assessed for mobility, strength, pain, and overall tissue quality. We then choose which parts need treatment, pick the appropriate needles, and go to work. It seems like a daunting process, but I assure you it is a carefully calculated science.

Needles are left in from anywhere from 10-20 minutes to give your body time to release all those good naturally occurring chemicals like serotonin, noradrenaline, and beta-endorphins, and activate your bodies network or nerve fibers. In some cases, we can hook the needles to a TENS unit to deliver gentle electrical impulses which can further assist in managing pain and dysfunction.

Is Dry Needling safe?

Believe it or not, dry needling is one of the safest treatment options out there. The most common side effects are pain during and after the treatment, minor bleeding and bruising, redness, drowsiness, and fatigue. More severe side effects are extremely rare, and this treatment is more safe than most things you will come across.

Ok… but does Dry Needling hurt?

I know many people are not fans of needles, but these are so thin that you hardly even feel them in some cases. You may feel a muscle twitch, pressure, or slight discomfort when the needle is inserted. It is usually never as bed as people think.


How long does the relief last? And how often can I do dry needling?

While we can never promise any specific results from dry needling, you can have days, weeks, months, and even years of relief! This is a treatment that can be performed fairly often, with at least 48 hours needed between treatments for the same body part.

We hope this answers any questions you have about dry needling! It can be an extremely effective tool to reduce pain and improve mobility, and something we often include as part of the rehab process.

If you’re unsure if your current issue would benefit from dry needling, schedule a free 15 minute phone call with one of our doctors of physical therapy to learn more!


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