Common Misconceptions of Dry Needling

By Connie Strey, PT, WCS, BCB-PMD, CMTPT, PRPC

Have you been thinking about trying dry needling but want some questions answered before you schedule an appointment? Maybe you aren’t quite sure what dry needling is, are confused about how it differs from acupuncture or you are simply afraid that it will be painful.

Myth: Dry needling and acupuncture are exactly the same

Truth: Dry needling and acupuncture, while they use the same needle types, are two very different treatments. Dry needling is a therapeutic technique where a trained physical therapist inserts small, sterile, solid filament needles into the skin and muscle directly at a trigger point. The ultimate goal is to generate a “twitch response” which helps release the tension and pain located in the muscles. On the other hand, acupuncture involves the insertion of these thin needles through the skin at strategic points of the body. It is a key component of Traditional Chinese medicine that is believed to adjust and alter the body’s energy flow into healthier patterns.         
Myth: Dry needling is extremely painful

Truth: While the local “twitch response” causes a very brief painful response, it lasts less than a second. Most patients say they do not feel the insertion of the needle, but describe the pain, from the muscle spasm, as a little electrical shock or a cramping sensation.

Myth: Dry needling comes with a long list of side effects

Truth: The only side effect patients have said they experience is that their muscles tend to feel sore following the procedure and this is perfectly normal! It is recommended that you stretch and apply ice for 2 days after a dry needling treatment.

I have found dry needling to be a very effective tool for my patients. I treat patients diagnosed with orthopedic problems, pelvic pain, chronic pain, headaches, etc., who have benefitted greatly from this manual therapy technique. If you would like to make an appointment to see me to discuss dry needling or other options that can help you, just call our office!

Connie Strey is a licensed physical therapist at PT Center for Women, 3232 Ballard Road, Suite 204, Appleton, WI 54911. To make an appointment with Connie call or text 920.729.2982.

PT Center for Women is one of the only physical therapy centers in Wisconsin specializing in pelvic pain and pelvic muscle dysfunction. We offer women of all ages comprehensive evaluation and treatment for their physical therapy needs.


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