Dry needling is a manual technique used by physical therapists to reduce muscle spasm, improve mobility, and reduce pain. Here at Athens Physical Therapy, our therapists are certified in dry needling, which requires intense, hands-on courses to learn anatomy and hone their skill. Dry needling targets trigger points in muscles that may be causing you pain or restricting your range of motion. Your therapist may also use this technique to target fascial restrictions or other connective tissues that may be hard to target otherwise. Common areas for dry needling include your areas on and around your shoulders, neck, glutes, IT band, quadriceps, and plantar fascia, though dry needling can be used in virtually any area of the body. 

Your therapist will use a very thin filament needle to pierce the skin and reach the underlying muscle; it is called dry needling because there is no medication or injection. While dry needling is often confused with acupuncture due to the use of similar needles, acupuncture is an eastern medicine technique based on meridians and energy flow. Research indicates that dry needling can reduce muscle tension, improve range of motion, and improve nerve conduction to improve your muscle activation and performance.

Your therapist may choose to include dry needling in your treatment plan for some of the following reasons: 

  • You have particularly painful and tight points in your muscles (like that pesky one right at the top of your shoulder blade)
  • You have limited range of motion—you can’t get your arm overhead or your knee bent due to muscle tightness
  • Your muscles just feel tight or ache
  • Your muscles are not activating correctly due to tightness or restriction
  • You have increased pain 
  • As well as many other reasons

When performing dry needling, your therapist will follow precautions to ensure your safety. Dry needling is performed in the clinic and is typically used as one piece of your treatment plan in conjunction with exercise, other manual techniques, and activity modification. Dry needling can be uncomfortable while the needles are inserted, but you will leave feeling less tension and improved motion. 

If you are experience muscle pain or tightness, poor range of motion, or just not feeling “right,” come in to see us today—our highly trained physical therapists will evaluate you and determine if dry needling is right for you.