Skip to main content
can dry needling help?

Can Dry Needling Help?

by Stacie Cornwell, PT, DPT, OCS, Astym Cert.10 Comments

Dry needling is an innovative treatment technique performed by a licensed physical therapist to help reduce or heal pain symptoms. This technique has many useful applications ranging from soft tissue involvement to nerve irritation. In general, it is primarily used to target trigger points (sensitive spots in soft tissue) and reduce tension of taut muscles.

Dry Needling for Strains

The repetitive overload of taut muscles can result in a strain. Muscles connect to bones by tendons, so when a taut or strained muscle pulls at the attachment site of the tendon, the resulting breakdown can evolve into tendinitis. With dry needling, a thin needle is placed into the inflamed tissue and recruits the body’s acute healing response to aide in quicker recovery time. Additionally, chronic tendon conditions can benefit from the influx of blood flow that occurs from the needle micro trauma.

can dry needling help?

Dry Needling for Pinched Nerves

Taut muscles can also cause nerve impingement (pinched nerve) anywhere along the muscular complex. For example, in the neck, as the nerve roots exit, the muscles of the neck lay on top and can pinch down on the nerves. The same nerve could be affected further down the arm, under the muscles of the forearm. All could lead to numbness and tingling in the hand, mimicking symptoms of carpal tunnel. Dry needling in the neck or anywhere along the nerves track could resolve the symptoms.

dry needling can help

If a nerve becomes affected by impingement or disc herniation, muscles may lose their mass (atrophy) due to the reduced nerve flow. Dry needling with electrical stimulation, early after injury, can directly aid in the re-development of the muscle.

More Conditions Dry Needling Can Help

Dry needling has many great benefits and can address a wide array of neural and musculoskeletal conditions, including:

• Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
• Cervical Strain
• Whiplash
• TMJ Dysfunction
• Headaches
• Carpal Tunnel
• Tennis Elbow
• Golfer’s Elbow
• Lumbar Strain
• Disc Herniation
• Gluteal Tendinitis
• Piriformis Syndrome
• Sciatica
• Quadriceps Strain
• Patellar Tendinitis
• Patellofemoral Syndrome
• Iliotibial Band Syndrome
• Shin Splints
• Plantar Fasciitis
• Achilles Tendinitis
• Tarsal Tunnel
• Scar Tissue Adhesions

This list is only a few of the conditions that may benefit from trigger point dry needling. If you have any questions whether or not dry needling can treat your specific pain or injury, contact an Athletico near you for a Free Assessment. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.

Request a Free Assessment

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Stacie Cornwell is a Doctor of Physical Therapy with an Orthopedic Specialty Certification who practices in Vandalia, Ohio. She enjoys giving back to the physical therapy profession, and her passion for ongoing learning is evident through her promotion of continuing education and mentorship. If you value professional growth and want more information about Athletico's great benefits, go to


  1. Jo fet

    I just had my first therapy with dry needles with an effort to stop the pain I have been having both in my left shoulder and my right arm. I was told it was due to a nerve compression at c6. It was without doubt the most pain I have ever experienced!! I yelled and cried. Is this a normal result of this therapy. Many ,needles in the neck and shoulder.

  2. Stacie Cornwell


    I would say this is not a typical result of dry needling. While, dry needling can be uncomfortable, when Your pain is reproduced, it is not described as the most pain ever experienced. It sounds like you may be suffering from general hypersensitivity of within your nervous system. Talk to your physical therapist about pain management strategies that can deescalate the nervous system itself. Hope this helps!

  3. Joany Binder

    Is dry needling the same or similar to acupuncture? Guessing it has similar results.

  4. Francisco Gutierrez

    I had pain in the right gluteal region specially in the sitting position. I had PT for 4 weals and one treatment with a dry deedling, I had total resolution of my pain.

  5. Ellen A Buechler

    Oh. My. Goodness. WHAT would I do without my physical therapist at Athletico? I mean, yes, sometimes I am challeneged by what I am being asked to do, however, I ALWAYS leave feeling so much better. And better yet the next day. Mike Frossard is one of the best therapists I’ve ever had…and after back injury, rotator cuff/ hip and knee issues and having had both my ankles reconstructed…I’ve been able to do things I’ve only dreamed of doing. All because I’ve had the best therapist to help me to learn to do more at home to help myself. As well as challenge my body to do more while in therapy. I’ve had knots that haven’t been undone in a LONG time. So thankful for for quality therapists and the work they do there.

  6. Stacie Cornwell

    Dry needling may appear be similar, with regards to the needle itself; however, theoretically, the use of the needle is different. Those who dry needle apply them into the muscle of treatment. For example, someone with a low back strain may need a needle inserted into the quadratus lumborum as well as other muscles of the spine. Accupuncture follows energy flows as related to tradition Chinese medicine and uses needles to change the flow.

  7. Sonia

    Hi! I am looking for a research article with evidence of effectiveness of Dry Needling on patients with Cervical Radiculopathy. Can you share one evidence?

  8. Kaye Dungan

    Stacie Cromwell is my therapist at ATHLETICO . I started seeing her this summer for 7th cranial nerve facial paralysis & vertigo. I’ve had this condition since 2018 after being diagnosed with Bells Palsy & Trigeminal neuralgia. I am 73. Unfortunately there are not many options available to treat this type of facial paralysis after its onset. I had to have a gold weight inserted in my affected eyelid so I could close my eye with the help of gravity. As a last resort, I decided PT might help with the vertigo. As of this writing, Nov 2021, I am free from vertigo & have just come from the Ocularplastic surgeon who will be removing my eyelid weight. Dr also confirmed my 7th cranial nerve has regenerated allowing feeling & release of facial muscles. Dr. stated that once eyelid weights are placed they are not typically removed.. Stacie & the staff have worked with me tirelessly, including dealing with Insurance. I would not be at this point in recovery without the knowledge, care & support of my ATHLETICO family. I am eternally grateful.

  9. shane u

    i don’t go to athletico but I have tried trigger point for my chronic shoulder pain for 10 plus years and its done wonders. I recommend to anyone who has ran out of options or wants to try it. It not painful in the slightest, uncomfortable a tad. I have also done acupuncture and acupuncture is not comparable to this at all. I have also had 3 shoulder surgeries that didn’t do anything along with years of therapy and every type of drug, medicine, injection you could imagine. This works if done right.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *