What is Dry Needling?


Dry needling is a technique physical therapists use to treat pain. The technique uses a “dry” needle, one without medication or injection, inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle, known as trigger points.

Dry needling is not acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists. A complete acupuncture treatment might yield a holistic benefit not available through a limited needling treatment. It is a part of modern Western medicine principles and supported by research

“The doctor performed 4 sessions on my post-op left shoulder, resulting in greater range of motion overhead and behind my back.

Before we started DN treatment I was unable to lift my arm past shoulder height. Now, I can raise it above my head. The sensation is hard to describe, but I’ll never forget the feeling when my muscle, just… released! Dry Needling plus the doctor’s treatment plan has done wonders for my shoulder.”

Commonly Asked Questions About Dry-Needling

What is a trigger point?

A trigger point is a taut band of skeletal muscle located within a larger muscle group. Trigger points can be tender to the touch, as a result touching a trigger point may cause pain to other parts of the body. Hence, the term “referred pain”.

What kind of needles are used?

Dry needling involves a sterile thin needle that penetrates the skin and as a result stimulates underlying trigger points, muscular and connective tissues. The needle allows a physical therapist to target tissues that are deeper and not manually palpable.

We wear gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when dry needling, consistent with Standard Precautions, Guide to Infection Prevention for Outpatient Settings, and OSHA standards. The sterile needles are disposed of in a medical sharps collector.

When should dry-needling be performed?

Dry needling works the best when used in conjunction with other treatment services. We will perform dry needling first followed by manual therapy and then strengthening/mobilization exercises. Physical therapists use this technique with the goal of releasing or inactivating trigger points to relieve pain or improve range of motion. This can improve recovery time and help the patient’s return to active rehabilitation.

Is it painful?

Most people do not feel the insertion of the needles, unless it is in more sensitive areas. If they do feel them, the needle is immediately removed. Many patients find the procedure so relaxing that they fall asleep.

How long does it take for the procedure to work?

For some patients, the effect is immediate, with an increase in motion and decrease in pain and inflammation. Others experience these positive results the next day. Typically, it takes a few sessions for a lasting positive effect. Dry Needling causes a mechanical, biomechanical, and neurological change without any pharmacological means. We are looking for a cumulative response to deactivate the muscle spasms, disrupt pain and restore optimal function.

Do I need a physician referral?

You will need a Physician Referral to undergo Dry Needling in the state of Virginia. For existing patients, our front office staff will assist you with this process if you need an active referral.

What conditions can be treated with dry-needling?

Conditions that dry-needling can help to improve include, but are not limited to, TMJ, Headaches, Neck Pain, Whiplash, Tennis Elbow, Carpal Tunnel, Lower Back Pain, Sciatica, Bursitis, Knee Pain, Pirformis Syndrome, Achilles Tendinitis, Plantar Fasciitis, and more.

Are there side-effects?

Most patients do not experience any side effects. In some cases the treated area can be sore for 24-48hrs. The soreness is very tolerable and easily minimized with cold/heat and stretching. Drowsiness, tiredness or dizziness occur after treatment in a small number of patients (1-3%). Minor bleeding or bruising occurs in 15-20% of treatments, but is often painless.

How much does it cost?

Dry Needling is not covered by most insurance companies. Therefore, we offer Dry Needling as a cash-pay service.

  • For Existing Patients Following a Plan of Care, the cost is:
    • $40.00/Session
  • For Dry Needling Only:
    • Package of 6 sessions for $360.
    • Disclaimer: The best results are achieved when Physical Therapy and Dry Needling are performed together, and not as a standalone treatment.

Not Sure If Physical Therapy Is Right For You?

Stop Letting Pain Limit Your Life

Take advantage of our 30 minute Complimentary Consultation where you will get the following questions answered by a licensed Physical Therapist:

  • What is causing my pain?
  • Will physical therapy help?
  • What do I have to do to achieve pain free motion?
  • Do I need surgery?

Set up your discovery Session:

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