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Dry Needling

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a safe and effective physical therapy that targets muscular trigger points. By relieving tension in these points, a certified physical therapist can reduce pain, increase movement and restore function to musculoskeletal injuries. Among other ailments, dry needling may be used to treat common conditions including:

  • Dry needling for tennis elbow
  • Dry needling for plantar fasciitis
  • Dry needling for golfer’s elbow
  • Dry needling for arthritis

Please review the full list of ailments and conditions that are treated by dry needling below.

How Does Dry Needling Work?

Using a thin filiform needle, your therapist will target the source of soft tissue related pain or movement restriction by eliciting what is called a localized twitch response. This localized pain-relieving stimulus is what drives lasting pain relief that allows you to accelerate your recovery. While many patients experience relief soon after treatment, we recommend you schedule follow up visits paired with other treatments to ensure the process is effective in the long term.

Watch the dry needling video below to see how the process works and how our patients respond to the treatment.

What Dry Needling is Good For

We use dry needling for back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and muscle pain among many other more specific conditions and ailments:

  • Acute and chronic tendinitis
  • Athletic and sports-related overuse injuries (ex. golfer’s elbow treatment)
  • Post-traumatic injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and work related injuries
  • Chronic pain conditions
  • Headaches and whiplash
  • Lower back pain
  • Shoulder impingement
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tennis elbow
  • Muscle spasms
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sciatic pain
  • Hip pain
  • Knee pain
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • TMJ
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Many other neuromusculoskeletal conditions

Additional Details

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a trigger point?

Myofascial trigger points are one of the most overlooked and ignored causes of acute and chronic pain. Sometimes referred to as “knots,” a trigger point is a hyperirritable spot in a taut band of a skeletal muscle that is painful on compression, stretch, overload or contraction of the tissue which usually responds with a referred pain that is perceived distant from the spot” (Simons et al, 1999)

For many patients, Dry Needling physical therapy is more effective in treating myofascial pain than other manual therapies.

Often, alternative soft tissue treatments require multiple sessions to achieve the same effect as one or two 10-minute needling sessions. Results may vary, but most patients see a significant improvement after one or two dry needling sessions.

How does dry needle therapy work?

The mechanical stimulation of the muscle elicits a local twitch response or rapid depolarization of muscle tissue. After this process, the neurologic input of the trigger point drastically reduces, and a reflexive relaxation of the muscle is observed resulting in decrease of pain and dysfunction. Dry Needling has also been shown to alter the chemical environment of active trigger points and initiate a new healing process.

What can I expect from my dry needling procedure?

Does dry needling hurt? Typically, patients feel some level of discomfort during the procedure, which often reproduces or intensifies the patient’s symptoms for a short period of time. Patients often describe a soreness in the area that was needled immediately following treatment. This is normal although does not always occur. The soreness varies person to person and depending on the muscle group that was treated and typically lasts a few hours and feels like you have had an intense workout at the gym. Occasionally small bruising is accompanied with soreness. Expect noticeable change in symptoms after one or two treatments.

Is dry needling safe?

We go to great lengths at Odom Health and Wellness to ensure safety. Our therapists have doctoral level training, have passed their board exams, and have received formal education in dry needling. Our therapists have an extensive understanding of anatomy and significantly more training and education than the national average for Physical Therapists. We apply OSHA standards and take the highest of precautions with all needling therapies.

How long do dry needling benefits last?

Improvements from dry needling can be permanent but may require additional follow up sessions to completely resolve symptoms. Dry needling is not a standalone intervention and is most effectively paired with other manual therapy and exercise-based interventions to correct for faulty movement patterns.

What is the difference between dry needling vs acupuncture?
The sole similarity between dry needling and acupuncture is the tool itself – a solid, filiform needle. Traditional acupuncture is based on eastern medicine with the purpose of normalizing energy imbalances, or “Qi” along traditional Chinese meridians for the treatment of diseases. The performance of dry needling by physical therapists is based on western neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous system. Dry needling is highly researched originating from injection therapies to restore optimal function of muscles.
What is the difference between dry needling vs trigger point injection?
Dry needling is different from trigger point injections in that no medication is delivered, therefore the risk for side effects is less and the needling can be performed more frequently.

Traditional trigger point injections use a hollow, hypodermic needle to inject substances such as saline or corticosteroids into the tissue. When the two treatments are compared for treatment of myofascial trigger points, numerous systematic reviews and randomized control trials have found no statistically significant difference between dry needling and trigger point injections. Evidence supports that the “needling effect” is the most important part of the process rather than the substance injected. This does not mean that some patients will not have greater success with injection based treatments rather than dry needling or vice versa.


If you suffer from musculoskeletal pain and injury, schedule with Odom today. Our team prescribes individualized treatment plans for each of our patients using a variety of treatments. Our doctors can discuss the pros and cons of dry needling with you along with the other means we might use to return you to peak condition.

Request a physical therapy appointment and ask about dry needling!