October 26, 2018

By: Jake Nienow, PT, DPT

You don’t have to live with muscle pain and inflammation. Dry needling is one technique that Mankato Clinic physical therapists use to treat muscle pain, particularly myofascial pain.   

What is Myofascial Pain?

Myofascial pain affects the fascia — the connective tissue that covers the muscle. With this muscle pain, people will have sensitive spots known as trigger points. A trigger point is a taut band of skeletal muscle located within a large muscle group. Trigger points can be tender to the touch and touching a trigger point may cause pain to other parts of the body. This is called referred pain.  

If you have myofascial pain, you may notice trigger or tender points. The pain often worsens with activity or stress.

How Does Dry Needling Work?

Your physical therapist inserts a dry needle, one without medication or an injection, through the skin into the trigger points of your muscle. The thin thread-like needle penetrates the skin and stimulates underlying myofascial trigger points and muscular and connective tissues. The needle allows your physical therapist to target deep tissues that are not manually palpable. Dry needling can release or inactivate trigger points to relieve pain or improve range of motion.

Dry needling is not acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine. Dry needling is part of modern Western medicine principles. Research shows that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension and normalizes the sites where nerve impulses are transmitted to muscle. These sites are known as motor end plates.

Does Dry Needling Hurt?

Patients may feel mild discomfort during or tenderness following the procedure. The lasting pain relief tends to be worth it, but it may take a few treatment sessions. Dry needling is typically part of a larger treatment plan.

How do I make an Appointment?

Contact your primary care provider to get a referral to make an initial consult appointment with a physical therapist. Click here to learn more about our Physical Therapy Department.