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8 Things You Should Know about Trigger Point Dry Needling (Intramuscular Manual Therapy - TPDN)

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

1. Dry needling can help reduce local and referred pain and soreness

If you're comfortable with needles that don't involve much, if any, pain, you might consider this therapeutic technique if your physical therapist recommends it. A specially trained physical therapist uses a thin needle to release muscle tightness, ease tendonitis and inflammation, and/or promote healing or muscle activation.

graphic of trigger points on a man front and back view

2. How does dry needling work with chronic muscle tightness?

It stimulates a trigger point in a skeletal muscle. You might call it a knot, and it can cause more widespread pain than just the muscle in which it's found. Another name for a trigger point is myofascial pain syndrome. A tight band of skeletal muscle inside a larger muscle group, a trigger point can be tender when you touch it and may cause pain in other areas of your body.

As part of a larger treatment plan, your therapist is using dry needling to try to release the trigger point, relieving pain and/or improving your movement. A twitch can occur when the needle goes into the trigger point, and may be a sign that the therapy is working and reducing muscle tension.

3. What is a typical Session that uses Dry Needling like?

At Zion Physical Therapy, you can expect to get treated with Dry Needles for up to 5-10 minutes. Once completed you can expect to do light stretching and then follow up with some exercise to utilize the muscles fibers that just were “freed from the knots” to work normally again. This should help your muscles have better memory of working normally again, leading to less pain when you leave the office that stays lowered.

4. Therapeutic dry needling promotes healing.

The technique also can help with muscular issues that don't involve trigger points such as rotator cuff damage. The needle creates a tiny lesion in the tissue, promoting blood flow and healing to the area.

5. Dry needling is different from acupuncture.

Dry Needling is NOT acupuncture. The two philosophies are quite different. Therapeutic Dry Needling is based on Western medicine. Acupuncture is based in Chinese medicine and focuses on balancing the flow of energy in the body or Chi.

man receiving dry needling in his back

6. No liquid is involved.

The needle itself produces release in the trigger point. There's no solution injected into the muscle. The needle is also not dipped in any solution.

7. Physical Therapists are trained and allowed to administer Dry Needling to patients.

As part of their entry-level education, physical therapists are well versed in anatomy and therapeutic treatment of the body. Physical Therapists have taken Gross Anatomy where they learned the depth and three dimensional anatomy required to administer Dry Needling effectively and safely. Physical therapists who perform dry needling are required to supplement that knowledge by obtaining specific postgraduate education and training.

8. Dry Needling does not cost extra!

It will be included as part of your session with us at Zion Physical Therapy.

If you have any questions about whether Trigger Point Dry Needling is right for you, please reach out to Zion Physical Therapy at (212) 353-8693 or email

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