Dry needling is a technique physical therapists use (where allowed by state law) to treat myofascial pain. The technique uses a “dry” needle, one without medication or injection, inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle, known as trigger points. Other terms commonly used to describe dry needling, include trigger point dry needling, and intramuscular manual therapy. Dry needling is not acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists. Dry needling is a part of modern western medicine principles, and supported by research.
Trigger points are hyperirritable spots surrounding skeletal muscle, associated with physical nodes in tight bands or muscle fibers. Research suggests that unexplained pain frequently radiates from these points of local tenderness to a more broader area of impact, often limiting the patient’s quality of life and mobility. Dry needling looks to resolve this issue.