What is it? 

Dry needling or ‘Western style’ acupuncture as it is less commonly known, is a technique that is used to manage numerous musculoskeletal conditions through the deactivation of tight and painful areas called “trigger points”. A trigger point can be simply described as an irritable and overactive area in a muscle commonly identified as a knot.

Once the trigger point has been identified, a needle is inserted into the trigger point to ‘deactivate’ it by producing a local twitch response which, through inputs to the muscular and nervous system, this muscle relaxes and lengthens providing pain relief. The twitch response can be a slightly uncomfortable as it may mimic your pain; however it is only momentary and should resolve within a few seconds. Releasing these trigger points can relieve pain and improve range of motion by reducing muscle tension and tightness. The benefit of needling is the increased ability to access and treat deeper muscles in any one area.

Side Effects:

After dry needling therapy, it is not uncommon to experience discomfort that lasts from a few hours to several days following treatment. This is no cause for alarm and your physiotherapist will inform you of the best way to manage this soreness depending on your condition. Occasionally, dry needling can cause minor bruising of the skin but again, this is no cause for alarm.

Is it Safe?

When performed correctly, dry needling is safe treatment technique; the needles used are extremely fine varying from 0.16mm to 0.30mm. The needles are individually packed single use sterile surgical steel needles and are disposed off immediately after treatment. While every precaution is taken to reduce the risk of infection is taken, very rarely, infection can occur at the needling site. If you have any questions regarding the safety of this technique, please do not hesitate to ask your physiotherapist.

Conditions that can Benefit from Dry Needling:

  • Headaches
  • Knee Pain
  • Tendinopathy
  • Hip and Gluteal Pain
  • Muscle Strains
  • Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow
  • Neck and Shoulder Pain
  • Back Pain
  • General Muscular Tightness (Postural Pain)

Journal Links:

1.Acupuncture for the alleviation of lateral epicondyle pain: a systematic review:



  1. Acute neck pain: dry needling can decrease pain and increase motion



  1. German Acupuncture Trials (Gerac) For Chronic Low Back Pain