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Dry Needling

Published: May 3, 2021

What is dry needling?

Most people are familiar with or have heard of acupuncture - A form of needle therapy used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Dry needling was derived from the philosophical concept of acupuncture and is a form of therapy where thin needles are inserted into tight, tender areas known as ‘trigger points’. These trigger points exist all over the body, and they can be targeted with certain therapies to reduce pain and sensitivity. Dry needling can be used to treat a variety of conditions such as:

  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Tight/painful muscles
  • Tennis elbow
  • Hip/buttock pain

Our physiotherapist can assess your injury and determine whether dry needling is the best option for you.

Yikes! Needles sound scary

The needles used for dry needles are extremely thin - usually 0.16mm-0.3mm thick. To put it into perspective, a needle used for an injection is about 10 times as thick! That means they are relatively pain-free when being inserted and can barely be felt in some areas.

What’s the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a treatment form derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine. As a broad definition, acupuncture uses the philosophy of “meridian points” and energy flow patterns that run through the body known as “qi” to determine where to insert the needles. Dry Needling is not based on this theory, the needles are placed into the muscles where a 'trigger point' is identified by the therapist. This is felt as a tight knot in the muscle. You may find that the areas we insert the needles for dry needle therapy are quite different to acupuncture points.

Another key difference is the depth the needles are inserted into the body. Most acupuncture points are located quite close to the skin, so can be reached with very minimal insertion of the needle. With dry needling, the tight areas of the muscle can be deeper in the muscles, so we may need to insert the needle further into the body.

Is it safe?

Dry needling is a safe, low-risk treatment when performed by a qualified therapist and can result in long lasting pain relief. As with any treatment, there are some risks associated with dry needling and it may not be the most suitable treatment for everyone. Our physiotherapist will always ensure that you are a suitable candidate based on your injury and past medical history, and they will inform you of any possible side effects before performing dry needling.

Who can perform dry needling therapy?

Dry needling requires a separate qualification on top of a physiotherapy degree. At Back In Motion, majority of our physiotherapists are qualified to perform dry needling and they may recommend this treatment to you based on their assessment.

If you’d like to know more about dry needling, call our clinic or book in for a free assessment today.

Author: Aki Nemoto

Clinical Associate Physiotherapist