What is Dry Needling?

What is Dry Needling?

Dry Needling is a treatment paradigm using an indirect approach to treating pain.

It is a light needling technique performed by suitably/appropriately qualified physiotherapists/clinicians to address the consequences of movement dysfunction. Tissues can become irritated and inflammed (and cause pain) due to mechanical overload, as a result of movement restriction elsewhere.  Areas/points of tissue anomalies are needled in order to cause changes in the tissue physiology and function thereby reducing tissue restriction and thus pain.

These changes in tissue physiology and neural irritability are reflected in an improvement in range of motion and tissue palpation, however changes in pain are not necessarily immediate.

Aches and pains can occur after needling due to new movement ranges and postures.


Benefits/Effects of Dry Needling

Reduction in histamine/inflammation reaction

Mechanical disruption of dura, fascia and/or connective tissue

Changes in peripheral and segmental neural function

Changes in centrally driven pain response as a result of improved tissue physiology and function.

Applications/Uses

    Structural tissue adaptation

Localised areas of structural changes in collagen tissue occur in response to overload over a period of time eg. ‘stiff’ joints.

Dry needling can facilitate reversal of structural change in collagen matrix

Instant effects/changes/improvements in range of movement, and latent effects/reduction in pain and inflammation

    Peristructural tissues

Treating tissues not at the site of pain eg. ‘tight’ muscles. By treating these areas and causing mechanical deformation of fascia via microstretch, the site of inflammation/pain is unloaded.

    Acute injury / inflammation

For an area of acute tissue damage or inflammation, the pain will cause movement restriction/palpable changes.  Treating the movement restriction will enhance tissue healing .


Overuse injuries - pain sensitivity due to overload as a result of movement dysfunction and inefficient load transfer.  Identifying and addressing movement dysfunction removes  movement barriers then pain resolves.

Unresolved acute injuries - unresolved due to a barrier to healing from movement dysfunction/inefficient load transfer