Acupuncture & Dry Needling

Acupuncture and dry needling

Dry Needling.

Acupuncture and dry needling are commonly used as a part of manual Therapy.

Dry needling is used in western medicine, usually as part of manual therapy. Acupuncture needles are placed in certain areas of the body to release tension and stress.

Manual therapy treatment may, therefore, be made easier. This is for both the patient and the therapist. As a result, many patients see a physical therapist that has been trained in dry needling also.


Acupuncture is different in that it is based on eastern medicine. This is because it works on the meridians of the body that control “ki” or “chi”. This is to try to improve general systemic health. It does not practice any form of manual therapy. Individual therapists may, however. There are many similarities between the two, as they both insert needles into the skin.

But that’s where the similarities end.

A comparison.

In the west, there has been an enormous amount of research into “dry needling”. Thus the benefits that this can bring in helping patients with musculoskeletal problems have clearly been seen.

Although the points used in both can be the same, the application of dry needling treatment is based on modern western medical science. Acupuncture and dry needling can treat many of the same conditions, in a very similar way. Low back pain, knee pain, sciatica, headaches & migraines, shoulder pain are examples. Physical therapy may also use manual treatment such as manipulation and massage, to enhance the use of needled points.

Trigger points & non-trigger points

Practitioners place the needles in specific “trigger points” in your muscle or tissue. Dry needling is also sometimes called “intramuscular stimulation”. The points are consequently areas of knotted or hard muscle. So, this helps release the knot and relieve any muscle pain or spasms. The needles will, therefore, remain in your skin for a short period of time. This is often between 10 and 30 minutes.

Some dry needling techniques treat a part of the central nervous system. This is called non-trigger point treatment. Instead of inserting needles only in the area of pain, the practitioner may insert needles in other areas of the body. These may be around but not directly on the point of pain. This technique relies on the idea that pain is the result of a greater nerve or muscular issue, not a focused one only in the main area of pain.

Finally, needles may also be placed in connective tissue at various points of the body. This is to achieve specific results and release localised tight areas. These areas can include ligaments around joints, such as the elbow. This type of “dry needling” is very effective when treating mechanical pain such as low back pain, headaches, and most joint pain.

What are the benefits of dry needling?

Dry needling may provide relief for some muscular pain and stiffness. In addition, easing the trigger points may improve flexibility and increase the range of motion. That’s why this method is often used to treat sports injuries, muscle pain, and even fibromyalgic pain.

Are there side effects or risks to dry needling?

Mild side effects are common with dry needling, but serious side effects remain rather rare. The most common side effects around the injection site include:

  • slight bruising
  • spot bleeding
  • temporary soreness

Finally, sterile single-use needles are therefore used, to prevent any risk of contracting blood-borne illnesses or diseases.