What is dry needling?
Dry needling is a broad term used to differentiate “non-injection”
needling from the practice of “injection needling” which utilises a
hyperdermic syringe and usually involves the injection of an agent
such as saline, local anaesthetic or corticosteroid into the tissue or
specific anatomical structures .In contrast to this, dry needling
utilises a solid, filament needle, as is used in the practice of
acupuncture, and relies on the stimulation of specific reactions in
the target tissue for its therapeutic effect.
The term dry needling is also used to differentiate the use of
needling in a western physiological paradigm from the use of needling
in an oriental paradigm which is referred to as acupuncture.
There are several popular, well established schools of dry needling
practice and they commonly involve the needling of myofascial trigger
points using acupuncture needles to deactivate and help resolve
There are many limitations to this approach however and practitioners
using such an approach are unlikely to achieve reliable results with
the majority of the clients they see. This partly due to the limited
variety in needle technique used and the reliance on the presence of
trigger points. Consequently many practioners, after an initial burst
of enthusiasm post studying dry needling, apply it less and less in
the clinic until it it is barely being used by them at all.
The dry needling plus approach addresses many of the limitations of
established dry needling practice by differentiating between a variety
of needling techniques and applying them to specific changes
identified in the tissue by means of skilled palpation and logical,
range based physical assessment .
The dry needling plus approach demands a higher skill level of the
practitioner than other approaches,however the rewards of investing
time in attaining excellent assessment skills and needle technique are
In the hands of a skilled practitioner, dry needling can be used in
most cases the majority of the time and with less energy expenditure
on behalf of the practitioner and equal or better effect than other
manual techniques currently being used.If practiced well there is also
a remarkable absence of the “post treatment tissue soreness” often
experienced by the subject following other manual therapy