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Physical Therapy


Specialty Services

Dry Needling

Specialized Training for Superior Results

What is Dry Needling?

Trigger point dry needling is a physical therapy technique that decreases pain in your muscles. Pivot Physical Therapy’s trained physical therapists adhere to a western medicine approach and are not performing acupuncture. Our goal, as musculoskeletal specialists, is to restore normal muscle and joint function. The dry needling technique is used in conjunction with a comprehensive evaluation that complements other treatment techniques to decrease pain and restore function.  

Dry needling physical therapy uses a solid filament needle to treat muscle trigger points. These points are a highly localized, hyper-irritable spot in a taught band of skeletal muscle fibers. These muscle trigger points play a role in producing and maintaining the pain cycle. They can alter muscle performance, as well as generate pain along common referral patterns.  These points develop in muscle for various reasons, including referred or local pain, inflammation, athletic injury or other causes. 

How Does Dry Needling work?

The mechanical stimulation of the muscle produces a local twitch response or rapid depolarization of muscle fibers. After this process, the muscle activity dramatically reduces, which results in relaxation and decreased pain and dysfunction.  This decrease in pain is related to the removal of muscular compression on your joint, nerve, and vascular tissue. Sometimes, the insertion of the needle also reproduces “referred pain” symptoms.  This is a positive sign confirming the trigger point as the source of the pain. Dry needling is highly effective for chronic muscle and repetitive sport injuries.  

Acupuncture vs. Dry Needling

What is the difference between dry needling physical therapy and acupuncture? The dry needling technique uses the same tool that acupuncture uses, but with a different theoretical purpose. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners use the holistic treatment of acupuncture to normalize energy, or Chi, in the body to cure syndromes.  Although an acupuncture needle is used in dry needling, dry needling is based on traditional reasoning of Western medicine. The sites for the needle insertion are located in specific myofascial trigger points in skeletal muscle, which can differ from acupuncture.

How is Dry Needling Different from Trigger Point Injection?

Trigger point dry needling does not deliver any medication.  Therefore, the treatments can be done more frequently with no adverse side effects.  Traditional trigger point injections use a hollow, hypodermic needle to inject substances such as saline, Botox or corticosteroids. The theory suggests that the “needling effect” is the most important part of the process rather than the chemicals injected.  This does not mean that certain patients will not have greater indication or benefits with injections rather than dry needling and vice-versa. 

where can I schedule a dry needling appointment?

Dry needling is offered at a number of our clinics in Western Maryland, central Maryland, Virginia, Baltimore and Delaware. Search to see where our closest dry needling clinic is to you.