Your Top 5 Dry Needling Questions Answered

Have you heard of the term Dry Needling?

Some people rave about how it’s an amazing form of treatment and others may say that it wasn’t for them.

Let’s dive deeper to answer some of the questions that may be floating around about dry needling.

1. What Is Dry Needling?

Dry needling, also known as western acupuncture depending on the technique used, involves the insertion of a fine, single use needle into taut points in a muscle known as trigger points.

It is called ‘dry’ needling because there is no medication involved, unlike an injection.

2. What Is The Difference Between Dry Needling And Acupuncture?

Dry Needling

Insertion of one needle into a trigger point with stimulation (moving the needle in the muscle).

Take a look at the video below which shows dry needling of the upper trapezius muscle. This is normally used with a combination of western acupuncture.

Western Acupuncture

Insertion of a few needles in tight muscles that stay in the muscles for a varied amount of time.

Usually between 2-10 minutes depending person to person.

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture

This is something that we do not use as a physiotherapy treatment technique.

This treatment is thought to use the body’s energy channels, which are linked to organs and bodily functions to guide treatment.

3. How Does Dry Needling Work?

Dry needling works best with a combination of other physiotherapy techniques such as massage, mobilisations, trigger point therapy and exercises.

When the needle is inserted into a tight muscle it stimulates a twitch response which helps the muscle relax. This helps improve range of motion and can assist in relieving pain in the area.

When the thin needle is inserted into the trigger point, it brings blood to the area which helps the healing process.

This action helps restore the muscles ability to function with a decreased amount of pain.

Frequently, your physio will use stimulation on the needle inserted. This is where they give the needle a little wiggle or twist to help wake up the muscles below.

This action is similar to twisting a fork in spaghetti. If you imagine the needling wrapping around the muscle fibres below to help them release when the needle is removed.

4. Is Dry Needling Painful

Generally it is not too painful, but this varies from person to person as well as where the needle is inserted.

Usually once the needles are in you won’t even feel them!

Sometimes it feels like a dull ache or a heavy sensation (this is normal).

Sometimes we can get a twitch in the muscle (this is a good thing) and this can feel a little uncomfortable for a few seconds.

After treatment you may feel an aching sensation for 4-6 hours. Similar to a post workout soreness which subsides shortly after.

5. What Can Dry Needling Help With?

Dry needling is a safe and effective treatment for many conditions.

These include:

  • Tennis and golfer’s elbow
  • Hip and shoulder bursitis
  • Gluteal pain
  • Postural pain
  • Shin splints or plantar fasciitis
  • Calf strains
  • Neck and back pain
  • Headaches
  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis
  • Shoulder and Rotator Cuff pain
  • Knee pain


We will discuss the benefits and risks involved and work with you to determine if it is a beneficial treatment for you and your specific condition. Note that Dry Needling is not used in pregnancy.

Thanks for reading, we hope this post has been helpful! Feel free to speak with one of our physiotherapists in Grange, Adelaide about Dry Needling.

Call the clinic on 8356 1379 or book an appointment online

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