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Dry Needling in Physical Therapy

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling gets its name from the needles that are inserted into the body during a PT session. They are referred to as "dry" because they do not deliver medicine or anything else into the body. Instead, the needles themselves are the treatment.

This is not the same as acupuncture, which also uses dry needles. Acupuncture needles are placed according to ancient patterns with the goal of balancing Qi, or life energy. In physical therapy, dry needles are inserted directly into tight muscles, therefore aiming to relieve pain in a more direct manner. 

Trigger point dry needling specifically targets the portion of a muscle that has developed a trigger point. . Trigger points are believed to interfere with normal range of motion. They may also be extremely sore, especially when touched. Trigger point dry needling helps to alter the way these areas and the brain communicate, thereby helping to restore normal motion.

While some people find relief from trigger point dry needling alone, it is common for it to be mixed with other interventions. This allows problems to be tackled from multiple directions, such as strength training, stretching, and more. You should not be surprised if you, too, get a suggestion to use two or more methods to reduce your pain, improve your mobility, and improve your strength. By incorporating a more comprehensive approach, physical therapists help to ensure that the root cause of the issue is addressed. 

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