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Dry Needling

Dry needling is a treatment that can help relieve myofascial pain. Myofascial pain syndrome is a musculoskeletal pain disorder that presents as local pain along with referred pain (pain travelling along a specific pattern due to a tight trigger point).  Dry needling involves inserting a thin flexible needle into these trigger points. Unlike acupuncture, these needles are not left in for long periods and are removed once the trigger point has relaxed.

Picture of trigger point complex

Shah, J. P.,  et al. (2015) Myofascial Trigger Points Then and Now: A Historical and Scientific Perspective. PM & R : the journal of injury, function, and rehabilitation.

What is a Trigger Point?

A muscle trigger point is a "discrete, hyperirritable nodule in a taut band of skeletal muscle which is palpable and tender during physical examination".  A trigger point can be associated with greater muscle weakness, muscle dysfunction and decreased range of motion.

What are the benefits of Dry Needling?

This therapy can improve:

  • Blood flow
  • Decrease muscle tightness
  • Improve range of motion
  • Decrease pain
  • Improve muscle recruitment

What are the side effects of Dry Needling?

It may elicit a 'local twitch response' when stimulating the muscle with the needle. This will cause a mechanical change in the muscular tissue leading to relaxation in the muscle tissue. Commonly, this local twitch response may result in post-needling soreness, bruising and muscular fatigue.


  1. Furlan  AD, van Tulder  MW, Cherkin  D, Tsukayama  H, Lao  L, Koes  BW, Berman  BM. Acupuncture and dry‐needling for low back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD001351. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001351.pub2.
  2. Shah, J. P., Thaker, N., Heimur, J., Aredo, J. V., Sikdar, S., & Gerber, L. (2015). Myofascial Trigger Points Then and Now: A Historical and Scientific Perspective. PM & R : the journal of injury, function, and rehabilitation7(7), 746–761.