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Dry Needling & Acupuncture

Dry needling is a procedure in which a solid filament needle is inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point. A myofascial trigger point consists of multiple contraction knots, and are related to the production and maintenance of the pain cycle.

So what is the difference between Dry needling and Acupuncture? Is it the same thing?

Dry needling is performed by Therapists with the same needles used as Acupuncturists.

While acupuncture is a 5000-year-old art based on Chinese theory, dry needling is a therapeutic procedure using the same medium; but applied with a scientific perspective.

Dry Needling has progressed from western acupuncture. Many doctors use injections such as cortisone to treat pathologies such as migraine headaches and neck pain. Science is finding it may not always be necessary to inject fluid to get the same results, this is called wet needling. Science is finding that dry needling those same muscles by Physical therapists works just as well without risk complications to medicine.

Why it works

Think of your last massage. Your therapist is kneading your back then all of a sudden finds a certain spot in a back muscle and says ‘Oh, there’s the spot!”. Most people would call that muscle spot a knot or a trigger point. For years MRI machines, CT scans and ultrasound could not take a picture of that painful spot! To a large portion of the medical community if there was nothing on MRI, then there is nothing to treat.

Fortunately in 2015 researchers used a special MRI technique to identify tissue changes at the exact site of the Trigger point. They found out that the muscle has a painful trigger point with a host of problems. The trigger point has altered chemical levels including pH of 5 where it should be a 7 (neutral). Other researchers at the NIH found that once a therapist performs trigger point dry needling of the site the pH is instantly restored! The muscle is restored to health and years of nagging constant pain is eliminated. This, in the hands of an experienced therapist, helps resolve pain fast.

What type of problems can be treated with dry needling?


Dry needling can be used for a variety of musculoskeletal problems. Muscles are thought to be a primary contributing factor to the symptoms. Such conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • neck/back/shoulder pain

  • tennis elbow

  • carpal tunnel

  • golfer’s elbow

  • tension headaches and migraines

  • sciatica

  • hamstrings strains

  • calf tightness/spasms

The treatment of muscles has the greatest effect on reducing pain mechanisms in the nervous system. The treatment can also induce relaxation in many patients.