Dry Needling

Dry Needling

Dry Needling Therapy

What is dry needling?

Dry needling is a therapeutic technique used by physiotherapists to treat musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. It involves inserting thin, single use, solid needles into specific trigger points or tight bands of muscles. It is called dry needling because there is no fluid injected into the muscle.

Like many therapeutic techniques it can be used as part of a comprehensive physiotherapy treatment plan to help you achieve your goal.

What does Dry Needling Do?

Relieves muscle tension and spasms

Reduces pain and inflammation

Improves blood circulation in the treated area, bringing essential nutrients into the muscle tissue

Enhances joint mobility and flexibility

Helps restore normal muscle function

Stimulates a healing response and alleviate pain.

Dry needling can be beneficial for various conditions, including:

Muscle strains and sprains

Tension headaches and migraines

Neck and back pain

Shoulder impingement

Tennis elbow


During a dry needling session, your physiotherapist will assess your condition and identify the appropriate trigger points for treatment. They will use sterile, single-use needles and insert them into the targeted areas. You may experience a brief sensation, similar to a muscle twitch, which indicates the correct placement of the needle

The number of needles used and the duration of the session depend on your specific needs. Your physiotherapist may combine dry needling with other techniques such as manual therapy and exercise for a comprehensive treatment approach

Is it painful?

While individual experiences may vary, dry needling is generally associated with minimal discomfort. Some people may feel a brief sensation or a mild ache during needle insertion, but it is typically well-tolerated. The goal of dry needling is to target and release muscle tension, thereby reducing pain and promoting healing. The benefits outweigh any temporary discomfort, and many individuals find the relief provided by dry needling to be well worth it. Your physiotherapist will ensure your comfort and discuss any concerns you may have before proceeding with the treatment.

What are the side effects of Dry Needling?

While dry needling is generally considered safe when performed by a trained professional, there are potential side effects associated with the procedure. These can include:

  1. Soreness: Following a dry needling session, you may experience temporary muscle soreness or discomfort at the needle insertion sites. This is a common and expected reaction that typically resolves within a day or two.
  2. Bruising or bleeding: In some cases, minor bruising or bleeding may occur at the needle insertion points. This is usually minimal and self-limiting.
  3. Fatigue or lightheadedness: Dry needling can sometimes cause temporary feelings of fatigue or lightheadedness immediately after the treatment. It is advisable to rest and hydrate adequately following the session.

It’s important to discuss any specific concerns or medical conditions with your physiotherapist before undergoing dry needling to ensure its suitability for your individual case. Your Physiotherapist will also talk through potential side effects and risks with you.

Dry needling can help with:

  • neck pain
  • headaches
  • whiplash
  • lower back pain
  • sciatica
  • sports related overuse injuries
  • muscle strains / tears, for example the thigh or calf
  • hip or shoulder bursitis
  • tendon issues throughout the body eg shoulder, hip, knee or heel
  • shin splints
  • tennis elbow
  • frozen shoulder
  • knee pain
  • post-traumatic injuries eg work or vehicle related
  • post-surgical pain
  • chronic pain conditions


What to expect during your visit?

Your physiotherapist will explain why dry needling is appropriate for you and how it will help based on your conditions and potential risks. Your treatment area will be sterilised and the needles are then expertly inserted into the muscle and left for 1-2 minutes. Note that most people report no discomfort during the dry needling process.