Did you know dry needling was inspired by traditional Chinese medicine but adopted by countless physical therapists, chiropractors, and other Western medicine doctors?

The art of dry needling originally dates back to the 1940s with Dr. Janet Travell. 

She identified the muscular trigger points and referral patterns brought on with “wet needling,” She soon discovered that “dry needling” gave the same results.

The dry needling technique we know today was developed by a Czech physician, Karel Lewit, in 1979.

Dry needling and acupuncture are as different as fire and ice. They only have one thing in common: the needle (we’ll discuss the differences in another blog post).

In this blog post, we’ll be sharing what dry needling is, its benefits, and how it can help you relieve your body of pain and soreness. Read on.

What is dry needling?

Dry needling (as the name describes) is a treatment involving needles that are performed by qualified, professional physical therapists, chiropractors, and other doctors certified in practicing the technique.

The treatment involves applying sterile, liquidless needles to the affected tension-tight, inflamed areas of the body, or trigger points. Your muscle fibers may naturally respond with a sudden spastic twitch response. It’s a part of the process and is commonly painless.

The name comes from the actual needles used with no liquids injected into your body. During dry needling, a practitioner inserts several filiform needles that pierce into and under your skin. Filiform needles are sharp, short, stainless steel dry needles.

How does dry needling work?

In short, it works by stimulating your brain when the needles are gently pierced through your myofascial trigger points. Stay with us here. Myofascial is just an intelligent way of saying chronic muscular pain disorder. In plain English, it’s a pain caused by muscle irritation.

Is it painful?

Dry needling is considered to be painless by many. Why? The insertion of the needles doesn’t hurt because they’re pretty sharp and thin. It’s similar to getting blood drawn or a shot. Quick and painless.  

Naturally, you’ll twitch when the needles pierce through your skin. Your muscles will slightly ache or become sore for a day or two after your session. The after feeling is similar to the soreness experienced after an intense workout.

What are the benefits?

Dry needling helps reduce:

  • Hip pain
  • Neck pain
  • Knee pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Myofascial pain

The list goes on. We’ll talk about the other benefits in the next sections. Read on. 

Accelerates your body’s natural healing processes

Inserting a sharp, thin needle into your body’s trigger points relaxes the muscles, boosts blood flow, diminishes inflammation, and triggers a healing response. 

This healing treatment also improves nerve communication and triggers signals in your body to release natural pain relievers like endorphins which act as analgesics. In simple words, this means they lessen the perception of pain.

Resolves headaches and migraines

Dry needling aims for trigger points in the muscles and tissue to help soothe and relieve tension. This prevents headaches and helps ease the pressure caused by headaches.

Increases blood flow

Using the dry needling technique as treatment can loosen stiff muscles, ease joint pain, and improve blood flow and oxygen circulation within your body.

Lowers muscle tension

It helps reduce muscle tension and relieves pain. Twitching (from the needle piercing one of your trigger points) is a clear sign that the therapy is working.

Helps with tendonitis

It helps calm soreness. This means a specially trained physical therapist, chiropractor, among others who know the art, use thin needles to release muscle tightness, ease tendonitis and inflammation while promoting healing.

What is the recovery time?

It depends. However, most of the time, mobility is immediate, and decreased pain is felt within 24-to-48 hours. After undergoing needling treatment, you can expect to feel slightly sore. It’s natural.

Normally, it may take a few treatment sessions (once a week for 2-3 weeks) for a long-lasting, noticeable impact.

How long do the effects last?

We can’t say for sure or give you an exact number because the lasting beneficial effects are different for everyone. 

There are too many variables, such as:

  • Your age
  • Severity level
  • Treatment frequency
  • The cause of the pain

And so on. The first few treatments usually have a short length of pain relief, spanning over several days.

Should you try dry needling?

You should definitely give it a try if you’re dealing with:

  • Hip pain
  • Neck pain
  • Knee pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Myofascial pain

As we’re sure you know by now, dry needling can help reduce pain and soreness.

If you’re OK with thin, sterile needles that don’t involve little to no pain (if any), you might consider this therapeutic technique if your physical therapist recommends it.

How will dry needling help you?

Anyone experiencing body aches can benefit from dry needling. Such as athletes wishing to return to the field, to those who have collided in car accidents.

It’s a powerful technique because it allows experienced users to treat almost any muscle in the body at depths impossible with other methods. 

There are endless trigger points too deep in the tissue to reach through massaging. You can get the most out of dry needling by eliminating deep knots and restrictions that are otherwise unreachable.

How long does a dry needling session last?

A session typically lasts up to 30-minutes.

Last thoughts

Now you know what dry needling is, its benefits, its effects on your body, how it’s performed, and so on. You should know if it’s a treatment worth your time from reading this blog post from beginning to end. However, if you’re still unsure if dry needling is for you, read onto the next section.

Do you want to get in touch with us?

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re dealing with some sort of body pain and want to know if dry needling is a treatment that’ll surely benefit you and make the pain go away. 

If you’d like personal 1:1 care or want to learn more, please contact us at (410) 946-1672, or click here. We’ll get you in touch with one of our dedicated professionals. At True Sports Physical Therapy, your health is always front of mind! It’s our mission to help you get off the sidelines and back on your feet in the fastest and safest way possible.