Dry needling is a technique used by Physical Therapists to help treat myofascial pain (i.e. muscle pain).  Many people have experienced pain relief from dry needling and therapists have used it to help patients return to performing activities of daily living and athletics much faster than traditional treatments. Conditions that have been helped by TPDN include neck pain, low back pain, headaches, elbow pain, and almost any musculoskeletal issue.

Dry Needling has its origins in the 1940s through the work of Dr. Janet Travell. Dr.Travell identified trigger points and referral patterns that resulted in pain and dysfunction throughout the human body. A trigger point is defined as: “a focus of hyper-irritability in a tissue that, when compressed, is locally tender and, if sufficiently hypersensitive, gives rise to referred pain and tenderness.”  “Wet Needling” was the initial treatment for these trigger points.  This technique involved the use of a hypodermic needle used to inject a substance to help relieve the pain associated with a trigger point.  Over time it was conceived that the hypodermic needle itself could provide relief from pain and dysfunction without the use of any medication.  Over time the dry hypodermic needle was replaced by a solid thin filament needle to treat the tissue without medication now known as “Dry Needling”.

  • How does it work? Dry needling works by releasing tight trigger points by using a thin filament needle.  It helps to restore muscle function allowing for increases of range of motion and reduction of pain.  Research has shown that Dry Needling can help improve pain control, reduce muscle tension, and normalize dysfunctions at motor end plates.  All of this is aimed at speeding up the rehabilitation process.
  • Will it help me? TPDN is part of an extensive rehabilitation program. TPDN can help to speed up the rehabilitation process but it is important to remember that it is only part of a treatment program which may include therapeutic exercise, other manual techniques, neuromuscular re-education and progression towards specific activities.

We want to thank Mike Root, PT, DPT at Pivot Physical Therapy for taking the time to write this article for our newsletter.  If you have any further questions on TPDN you may contact Mike at [email protected]

Thank you Mike!