Dry Needling vs. Local Injections


What are the differences between local injection therapies (cortisone, epidurals, botox etc.) and Dry Needling? Local injections are widely used in pain management to provide pain relief and reduce inflammation. Dry Needling utilizes thin monofilament needles similar to those used by acupuncturists to alleviate tension without injecting any medication into the body. It is mainly used for treatment of muscular, tendinous or ligamentous injuries, and is proven to help with musculoskeletal and neuromuscular pain. And the best part is, your Physical Therapist can provide this treatment for you!

Dry needling by definition is an intramuscular procedure where needles are placed in a muscle belly or over an active trigger point to help reduce muscle tension or stress. Fortunately this is not the only benefit to Dry Needing therapy. Dry Needling can be utilized to treat a wide variety of orthopedic and neuromuscular conditions such as TMJ, cervicogenic headaches, migraines and myofascial pain.

In addition to traditional Dry Needling, your Physical Therapist can introduce electrical intramuscular stimulation for further treatment of orthopedic or neurological conditions. There are various sources that report the correlation between low blood flow and increased muscular or tendinous pain/disability. Dry needling plus E-stim are an essential duo when aiming to increase blood flow to the area by causing local vasodilation (increasing blood flow).

At the time of treatment, your therapist will determine the amount of needles needed for maximal benefit. Delayed onset muscle soreness is a common side effect after dry needling treatment, however should only last 1-2 days. There have been cases where the patient experiences a sympathetic response during needling treatment including lightheadedness, sweating and in some cases nausea. While these responses to treatment are normal, they are not commonly seen in the clinic.

If you are experiencing chronic pain or you are struggling with stiffness/discomfort following surgery, ask your doctor/PT about Dry Needling!