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What is dry needling?

Dry needling is a technique used to combat muscle pain and tightness. The technique involves placing small, single filament needles into the area of tightness or pain. This stimulates the muscle, improves blood flow, and creates a local contraction in the muscle. This is comparable to the effect that massage and soft tissue therapy produces, however is far more local to the point in which the needle is placed.

Dry needling is particularly effective in the treatment of muscle "trigger points" - areas of muscle which might feel lumpy or nodular and are locally painful. (Sometimes referred to as "knots"). Trigger points can arise due to an area of muscle that is not receiving appropriate levels of oxygen. By stimulating the muscle, blood flow and hence oxygen, is increased.

Dry needling may cause a "twitch response" in the muscle that the needle is placed. This is an involuntary contraction of the muscle, which is beneficial as it causes an immediate relaxation of the muscle following the twitch. This helps in the overall "loosening" of the area that is tight. Studies have also suggested that natural, pain-killing chemicals (called opioids) within the body may be activated following the twitch response, leading to a decrease in pain at the site.

Are the needles sterile?

Yes, we only use sterile disposable needles.

How big are the needles?

The needles about the width of 2-3 hairs. The length of the needle varies between 30mm - 75mm depending on the size of the muscle it is being used for.

What does it feel like?

Usually only slight discomfort is noted. The majority of patients report that it is simply a strange sensation and not very painful. The sensation caused by the needles can vary, and is dependent on the area being needled, severity of tightness or injury, and the patient's own pain threshold. As with any technique, your practitioner will only apply the technique with your consent and will not continue with the technique if it is causing significant pain or discomfort.

How will I feel after the Trigger Point Dry Needling treatment?

This will vary but many patients experience immediate relief of their symptoms and an increase in range of motion. Soreness can also be a common response from the needling but does not occur with all people. Some individuals may experience a delayed onset soreness later that day or the next. Many patients say the soreness is very similar to the feeling they experience a day or so after moderate exercise. The soreness, if present, will usually last 1/2 a day to at most 2 days.

Mild bruising may occur at the needling sites and is more prevalent in certain parts of the body. Larger bruising may also occur, but is rare. Application of ice on the bruise will help with the soreness.

It is uncommon but possible that the treatment may temporarily increase your symptoms. This is not unusual but if this continues past the 12 day window, inform us to allow adjustment of your program to enhance your comfort the next time. This does not mean that needling will not be beneficial to your condition.

What conditions can Dry Needling be used to treat?

Dry needling is used in conjunction with other techniques to treat a wide variety of conditions. It may be used on most muscular conditions, however, after a thorough examination and assessment, we will advise you if your condition is not suitable for needle treatment. In particular, good results have been found with:

Tennis/Golfers elbow

Shoulder complaints

Gluteal pain Leg Pain

Shin splints

Stress related pain



Chronic Low Back pain

Sports Injuries

Plantar fascitis

How does it differ from Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is based on Chinese Medicine principles, which involves special Acupuncture points correlating to various conditions throughout the body. Dry needling involves treatment of a specific muscle, with the intention to reduce tightness and pain. Many of the Acupuncture and known Trigger point locations do correlate, so sometimes treatment may seem similar, whereas other times it may seem quite different.

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