Debunked: Top Myths About Dry Needling

dry needling procedure

What is dry needling? This modern therapeutic technique is often confused with acupuncture. Even with dry needling becoming more popular and having success in clinical settings, it is still frequently misunderstood. Many myths about dry needling surround the process and its benefits.

This article will explore seven of the most common myths about dry needling. We hope that by dispelling these myths, you will better understand its role in physical therapy and how it can benefit your treatment and recovery.

8 Common Myths About Dry Needling

Many people shy away from dry needling therapy because they don’t understand what it is or how it works. They may also avoid this beneficial treatment due to misleading information they’ve heard about it. It can often sound intimidating or even a little scary.

Yes, it does involve needles, but once people learn what dry needling is and try it, they often wonder why they didn’t try it sooner. We want to clarify common myths and explain how dry needling works to help you recover and relieve pain.

1. Acupuncture and Dry Needling Are the Same Thing

One of the most common misconceptions about dry needling is that it is the same as acupuncture. While dry needling and acupuncture both involve using needles, they are different practices with separate underlying principles and objectives.

  • Acupuncture is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine and focuses on Qi (the balance of energy flow) along with meridians to promote overall health and well-being.
  • Dry Needling targets specific trigger points within the muscles to relieve pain, improve flexibility, and restore function. It operates on the principles of neurophysiology and modern anatomical knowledge rather than traditional Chinese medicine concepts.

2. Dry Needling Is Painful

We often associate needles with pain, but those who experience dry needling typically only feel minimal, if any, discomfort. The needles used in dry needling are extremely thin and solid, much different from hypodermic needles used for injections.

Most people describe feeling a light pinch or tingling sensation during their dry needling treatment. Experienced therapists will make sure to keep clients as comfortable as possible during treatment, making any discomfort more tolerable.

3. Dry Needling Is Only for Athletes

While athletes often seek out dry needling to help their recovery time and boost their performance, dry needling therapy goes beyond treating sports-related injuries alone. People use dry needling to help with other conditions like chronic pain, muscle spasms, joint issues, migraines, and even fibromyalgia. Regardless of athletic ability, dry needling can help people who experience all types of pain and discomfort.

4. Dry Needling Is a One-Time Standalone Treatment

Dry needling is not a one-time, standalone treatment. It is often incorporated as a part of a more holistic approach to physical therapy to maximize results. Therapists integrate dry needling into their rehabilitation plans, which may include a spectrum of exercises, hands-on manual therapy, and other types of pain management strategies. Combining dry needling with other therapies gives patients a more effective recovery experience with long-lasting results.

5. Dry Needling Isn’t Safe

Another common myth about dry needling is unsafe. When performed by qualified and trained healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists, dry needling is a safe and effective treatment option.

These practitioners undergo extensive education and hands-on training to gain the skills and knowledge needed to safely perform dry needling. They adhere to strict hygiene protocols, including using sterile, single-use needles to minimize the risk of infection.

Comprehensive patient assessments are also conducted prior to treatment. These assessments are conducted to identify any potential risks before proceeding with dry needling.

6. Dry Needling Is a Cure-All Solution

Although dry needling can be a highly effective treatment for certain musculoskeletal conditions, it’s not a cure-all for all ailments. It’s essential to understand that individual responses to dry needling can vary, and the efficiency of the treatment depends on various factors, such as the patient’s condition, the skill level of the practitioner, and the patient’s overall health.

Dry needling is often used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may include other modalities such as exercise therapy, manual therapy, and patient education. It’s vital to manage expectations and understand that it may take multiple sessions to achieve the optimal outcome.

7. Dry Needling Produces Immediate Results

People often think dry needling will always yield immediate and dramatic results after one session. While some may experience less pain and improvements in mobility shortly after a session, it’s essential to understand that each patient will respond differently to treatment. The benefits of dry needling may be more gradual and progressive in some patients, requiring multiple sessions to achieve lasting results.

Certain factors, such as the severity of the condition and the individual’s response to treatment, can influence the timeline of recovery. Patience and consistency with treatment are crucial to maximizing the benefits of dry needling.

8. Dry Needling Only Helps Muscle Pain

Dry needling is commonly associated with addressing muscular pain and dysfunction. However, its scope of application extends beyond muscle-related conditions. While it’s highly effective in releasing trigger points and reducing muscle tension, dry needling can target other structures such as tendons, ligaments, and fascia.

It can address various musculoskeletal issues, including joint pain, tendonitis, and nerve entrapment syndromes. It may also have a systemic effect on the nervous system, helping to modulate pain perception and promote overall relaxation and well-being.

Dry Needling Physical Therapy in Fort Collins 

Despite all the common myths, dry needling is a safe and targeted approach to your healing. Whether you are an athlete or someone experiencing chronic aches and pains, dry needling can be a valuable part of your treatment.

If you’re considering dry needling, the team at UpSlope Physical Therapy & Performance is experienced with this beneficial treatment option. We are ready to help you build a treatment plan that can relax your muscles, improve circulation, and promote tissue healing. Take your first step towards pain relief by consulting with one of our physical therapists today.

Contact us to schedule an appointment and explore the benefits of dry needling.

author avatar
Brady Hoffmann
As an active individual, staying healthy and injury-free is important to you. You make time for your workouts and training because it helps you focus, spend time with yourself, and work toward your goals.

Brady Hoffmann DPT, ATC

Owner and Founder of UpSlope PT

We Help Athletes and Active Adults Quickly Recover From Pain Or Injury So They Can Stay Active And Get Back To What They Love To Do.