Dry needling is a technique used to treat pain and movement impairments. It is helpful in cases where muscles are extremely tight or in spasm.
A taut band of skeletal muscles is called a trigger point. Trigger points are often tender and can cause pain to other parts of the body. When muscles are too tight, it is often difficult to manipulate the area, like to move a dislocated joint back into place.
Inserting a needle into this trigger point releases the tension and forces the muscles to relax, which often allows us to successfully manipulate or stimulate the area.
Dry needling is thus part of a bigger plan and a method to allow us to treat the patient further.
Dry needling involves a very thin needle (called “dry”, because it doesn’t contain medication, like an injection) being inserted through the skin into the irritated muscles.
The needles used are very thin and does not contain any fluid (medication). It therefore does not burn or sting the same as an injection does, and is tolerable even to patients who are scared of injections.
You will feel your skin and muscles being pinched (by our fingers) and a small prick. Your muscles might feel like they are rapidly contracting while being needled, after which they relax.
The area might feel tender or bruised afterwards – sometimes only the next day. It can leave the same sensation as a deep tissue massage.