Dry Needling Explained: What You Need to Know

Dry needling is a technique gaining popularity in the field of physical therapy and musculoskeletal care. It involves the use of thin, solid needles inserted into specific trigger points or muscle knots to relieve pain and improve muscle function. In this section, Dr. Timothy Ehn provides an in-depth understanding of dry needling, its benefits, and what you need to know before considering this therapy.

Understanding Dry Needling

Definition: Dry needling, also known as myofascial trigger point dry needling, is a therapeutic technique that involves inserting thin, sterile needles directly into muscles, tendons, ligaments, or near nerves to alleviate pain and improve muscle function.

Trigger Points: Trigger points, also known as muscle knots, are tight bands of muscle fibers that can cause discomfort and pain when compressed. Dry needling targets these trigger points to release tension and promote muscle relaxation.

The Procedure

  • Insertion of Needles: Fine, solid needles are inserted into the trigger points or areas of muscle tightness. The sensation during insertion is often described as a quick prick.
  • Muscle Response: The needles stimulate the trigger points, causing a twitch response in the muscle. This twitch response indicates that the muscle is being targeted.
  • Needle Removal: The needles are typically left in place for a short duration and then removed.

Benefits of Dry Needling

  • Pain Relief: Dry needling can provide significant pain relief by releasing muscle tension and reducing trigger point activity.
  • Improved Range of Motion: By releasing tight muscles and promoting relaxation, dry needling can enhance the range of motion and flexibility in the treated area.
  • Muscle Function: Dry needling helps improve muscle function and coordination by addressing muscle knots and spasms.
  • Faster Recovery: It can expedite the healing process for acute injuries or chronic conditions by reducing pain and muscle tightness.

Conditions Treated

  • Muscle Pain and Stiffness: Dry needling is effective in treating muscle pain and stiffness associated with various conditions, including fibromyalgia, tension headaches, and myofascial pain syndrome.
  • Sports Injuries: Athletes often use dry needling to manage injuries, especially those related to muscle strains, sprains, or overuse.
  • Chronic Pain Conditions: Conditions like arthritis, chronic low back pain, and neck pain can benefit from dry needling to manage pain and enhance mobility.

Considerations and Precautions

  • Qualified Practitioner: Ensure that a licensed and experienced practitioner performs the dry needling procedure.
  • Communication: Discuss your medical history, any concerns, or pre-existing conditions with the practitioner before the procedure.
  • Potential Side Effects: Mild soreness, bruising, or bleeding at the needle insertion site may occur but typically subside quickly.


Dry needling is a therapeutic technique offering effective pain relief and improved muscle function. It’s essential to consult a qualified practitioner and discuss your specific needs and concerns before undergoing this procedure. By understanding dry needling, you can make informed decisions about incorporating it into your musculoskeletal care regimen.

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