Dry needling, also known as functional dry needling or FDN, is a therapeutic treatment procedure that involves multiple advances of a filament needle into the dysfunctional muscle, which typically contains a ‘trigger point’. There is no injectable solution and typically the needle used is very thin. Most patients will not even feel the needle penetrate the skin, but once it has and is advanced into the muscle, the feeling of discomfort can vary from patient to patient.
Usually a healthy muscle feels very little discomfort with insertion of the needle; however, if the muscle is sensitive and shortened or has active trigger points within it, the individual may feel a sensation much like a muscle cramp — which is often referred to as a ‘twitch response’. The twitch response experienced in dry needling also has a biochemical characteristic to it, which likely affects the reaction of the muscle, symptoms, and response of the tissue. The patient may only feel the cramping sensation locally or they may feel a referral of pain or similar symptoms for which they are seeking treatment. A reproduction of their pain can be a helpful diagnostic indicator of the cause of the patient’s symptoms. Patients soon learn to recognize and even welcome this sensation as it results in deactivating the trigger point, thereby reducing pain and restoring normal length and function of the involved muscle.
Typically positive results of dry needling physiotherapy are apparent within 2-4 treatment sessions but can vary depending on the cause and duration of the symptoms, and overall health of the patient. Dry needling benefits can include effective treatment for acute and chronic pain, rehabilitation from injury, and even pain and injury prevention, with very few side effects.
For more information, check out our blog post on Dry Needling!
Adapted from Kinetacore’s Physical Therapy Education Website.