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Dry Needling and Acupuncture

Dry Needling and Acupuncture

  • What is dry needling and is it for me?
  • Are there any risks or side effects associated with physiotherapy dry needling?
  • Is dry needling different to acupuncture?

What is Dry Needling and Acupuncture?

Physiotherapists practice ‘dry needling’, which is a sub-type of acupuncture.  Both acupuncture and dry needling use the same type of needle and follow many of the similar points, but the theory and clinical reasoning behind the needle placement is different.  Dry needling is practiced by physiotherapists as it involves the insertion of a needle into soft tissues with the aim of decreasing myofascial tension and improving musculoskeletal function.  In other words, instead of digging our fingers into the sore muscles or trigger points, we can insert a needle to do the same job.  

Acupuncture, on the other hand, is a Traditional Chinese Medicine tool that uses the theory of meridians and the placement of needles is targeted at restoring the body’s qi flow.  Qi is the flow of yin and yang and, by restoring this balance, acupuncturists aim to improve systemic medical pathologies.  

Some physiotherapists have undertaken extra study in the area of acupuncture and are thus entitled to claim they practice the technique.  For the majority, though, dry needling is a fantastic tool based around a physiotherapist’s pre-existing knowledge of anatomy and neurophysiological control of the body.  

Needles are inserted into areas of tension, which causes the tissue to react. This reaction is promptly followed by a degree of tissue relaxation and, in many cases, a reduction in pain. Dry needling is really helpful when treating a large area of muscle tension. In addition, patients who are sensitive to touch when in acute pain often find dry needling extremely effective, as their tightness can be released with minimal hands-on therapy.

Usually after dry needling your physio may suggest you rest, and ensure you have good fluid intake. You may have an increase in pain afterwards, where the application of ice maybe appropriate. This is usually due to an inflammatory response to treatment. Some people find they may have increased fatigue, bleeding, bruising or skin/site reactions. Your physiotherapist will discuss any side effects with you in detail and ensure informed consent is gained prior to any dry needling.

Common Conditions Treated With Dry Needling

Dry needling maybe used if you have symptoms of pain or injury to a particular area of your body that are not considered sinister in any way. This may include:

  • Neck pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Muscle tears
  • Sporting injuries
  • Tennis elbow
  • Bursitis

How can we Help?

At Active Rehabilitation Physiotherapy, you are assessed by your physiotherapist and if they feel that dry needling may be effective in your situation, they will present it as one of your treatment options.  If you would like to try dry needling, your physiotherapist will explain the process as well as any potential complications.  All physiotherapists who practice dry needling have undergone training in the technique.

Appropriate infection control measure will always be taken if you are have dry needling.

What Should I Expect From my Appointment?

  • Detailed Interview to fully understand your symptoms and history and your specific goals.
  • Physical Assessment
  • Targeted Treatments including dry needling.
  • Communication and Collaboration with your medical team to keep them informed of your progress and to support your care.

Where can I see my Physiotherapist?

On this page

In Clinic

Online Video Appointments

Web & Mobile App

Private Gymnasium