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Dry Needling – What is it and do I need it?

Dry Needling – What is it and do I need it?


Dry needling describes the use of solid filiform needles to treat pain and dysfunction caused by muscle, myofascial and neural problems.

Poor biomechanics and an increase in training intensity can sometimes cause an adverse neurophysiological load on our system. In addition, this often results in increased tissues irritation, muscle tightness and pain. This works on the way your body feels and interprets pain by resolving movement barriers, optimising movement efficiency and normalising tissue loading. For instance, insertion of a needle leads to increased muscle relaxation, increased blood flow and additional electrical and chemical changes which assist in the healing process.

Your physiotherapist is specially trained in the use of dry needling. The size and type of needle is chosen dependent on the location of the pain and type of injury. Likewise, the needle is then inserted through the skin at various points, depending on what you want to achieve i.e. decrease pain/increase range of motion. However, you may feel a small pinprick and sometimes a muscle ache or muscle twitch. These sensation are all normal and often only experienced for a short period of time. The needles are left for approximately 3-5 minutes, depending on the area being treated. Through needling, tissue irritability is altered and an immediate increase in range of movement and pain can be achieved.

Dry needling can be used to treat any condition where muscle pain or tightness is an issue. A few examples include:

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Tennis elbow
  • ITB syndrome
  • Anterior knee pain
  • Shin pain and tightness
  • Calf pain and tightness

Dry needling is normally used in conjunction with other physiotherapy techniques and exercise prescription to allow optimal recovery.

When dry needling is preformed properly, there is very little risk. However, you may sometimes experience some pain following treatment. Some patients may have a little bruising or minor bleeding around the needle side. Uncommon side effects include minor aggravation of symptoms, drowsiness, headaches and nausea.

Here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic, Aileen MaGuire and Niamh Wynne are both certified dry needling practitioners. If you wish to make an appointment, contact us here.

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