Dry Needling

Treatment for muscle tightness and spasms after injuryPatient during dry needling treatment.

Dry Needling is a treatment that can relieve muscle tightness and spasms that commonly occur after an injury, and often accompany aging. Muscular tightness can cause compression and irritation of the nerves exiting the spine. When the nerves are irritated, they cause a spasm of all the muscles to which they are connected. This may cause peripheral diagnoses such as carpal tunnel, tendonitis, osteoarthritis and chronic pain.

To treat this, one of our certified physical therapists will insert small, thin needles into your muscles at the trigger point causing the pain. The muscles contract and release, improving flexibility of the muscle and decreasing symptoms.

What are trigger points?


Trigger points are sensitive spots within a muscle that can be tender to touch. They can form after an injury or overuse of your muscles. Touching an active trigger point can refer pain to other parts of your body.

Our physical therapists use dry needing to relax your trigger points and reduce pain.

What to expect

During your dry needling procedure, a physical therapist will insert a thin, sterile needle into the skin to shut down your muscular trigger points. The length of the needle will depend on the area of your body that is being dry needled. Most patients feel little or no pain as the needle is inserted. The needles are typically used once per muscle and discarded.

The entire procedure takes as little as 15 minutes and there is a low risk of infection. After the procedure, patients typically experience pain relief lasting from a few hours to several weeks. While the side effects from dry needling are usually minor, patients can experience:

  • Bruising at the dry needling site
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Soreness

Once the procedure is complete, your physical therapist will work to create an individualized plan that uses the benefits of dry needling along with other therapies.

What you should know about dry needling

Dry needling is used alongside other therapies to treat many conditions, including:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition of the hand and fingers caused by a pinched nerve
  • Face and jaw pain
  • Fibromyalgia, muscle pain that includes fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues
  • Foot and ankle sprain, including plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes
  • Headache
  • Hip and leg pain, including muscle strain, calf-tightness or sciatica - a condition in which a pinched spinal nerve in the lower back causes pain in the back, hip or outer side of the leg
  • Impingement, a condition in which a tendon is irritated (pinched) between structures, such as a disc
  • Low back pain and neck pain, including radiculopathy (a pinched nerve)
  • Shoulder and arm pain
  • Tendonitis, a condition in which the tissue connecting muscle to bone becomes inflamed

Dry needling can be used with most teens and adults with musculoskeletal issues - conditions affecting the muscles, ligaments and tendons. However, there are some patients who should not have dry needling, including:

  • Patients with certain bleeding disorders
  • Pregnant women, especially during the first-trimester

Our physical therapists will work with your doctor to make sure dry needling is right for your treatment plan. Dry needling is not a service provided in every state. To see if a location near you provides dry needling, click here.

Learn more about pain relief using dry needling