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Trigger Point Dry Needling - What is it and why it works

A tool or technique that is a very effective intervention to decrease pain and increase mobility is dry needling. Also known as trigger point dry needling (TDN), functional dry needling (FDN), intramuscular stimulation (IMS) and intramuscular manual therapy (IMT).  Dry needling uses a solid filiform needle that is very thin placed into myofascial trigger points, muscles and connective tissue.  This needle is different than a hypodermic needle that delivers medication or solutions to the tissue.  The desired low twitch response (LTR) or muscle twitch occurs when the dry needle is placed in the trigger point. The LTR is a neuro-reflexive response to deactivate the trigger point. This allows for pain relief of the muscle and increases tissue mobility and length.


Common conditions that dry needling addresses:

  • Neck/back pain
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Tennis/Golfer’s elbow
  • Hip/glute pain
  • Knee pain
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Sciatica
  • Muscle strains/ligament sprains
  • Chronic pain
  • Athletic performance

Many patients see positive benefits from dry needling on visit 1, but it may take 2-4 visits to see results and it depends on the nature and severity of their injury. Patients usually experience soreness from a couple of hours to a couple of days. Symptoms can be managed with contrasting heat and cold pack and performing prescribed stretching and exercises from your PT. Generally, PT’s use dry needling as part of a larger plan of care including multiple other techniques to manage acute symptoms, increase range of motion and mobility and ultimately work on muscle reeducation and/or muscle training.

Dry needling is an effective treatment for acute and chronic pain and rehabilitation from injury with very few side effects. If you are interested in dry needling to help with your pain and functional impairments, talk with your PT to see if you are a candidate for this treatment.  All Orthopedic Rehabilitation Associates facilities have physical therapists that are certified in Trigger Point Dry Needling through Kineticore.  If you have more questions or would like to try Trigger Point Dry Needling please feel free to contact one of our offices.


Chad Ansell, PT, DPT

Orthopedic Rehabilitation Associates

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