Dry Needling

Dry needling is a general term to describe a technique of inserting dry very fine needles into skin and muscles.   It has evolved into a more specific technique called Intramuscular Manual Therapy or IMT which specifically involves insertion of fine needles into the myofascia (strong loose tissue covering all muscles) to alleviate pain and treat the dysfunction of the soft tissues.   While it utilizes the fine needles, dry needling is based not on Chinese Medicine but on Western medical research and principles.   

Dr. Janet G. Travell who was the personal orthopedic physician to President John F Kennedy developed the term “trigger point”.   In 1942 she and Dr. David Simons wrote the book “Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction – The Trigger Point Manual” which has now become the premier manual of learning.  In this text (Chapter 3) the dry needling technique into myofascia was first introduced  “needling the soft tissue without injection of any liquid substance to treat human pathology”.    Canadian physician Dr. Chan Gun was an early pioneer of dry needling and referred to the technique as intramuscular therapy (IMT), a term still used today. 

In the technique the needles are inserted into the muscle causing a ‘twitch’ to release the muscle pain and tension.  There is no drug or any substance  inserted , thus the term “dry”.  Generally speaking there is no pain.  If the muscle is tight and shortened or is being stimulated to increase some strength, the client may experience some temporary discomfort.

Dry needling is offered in a variety of health settings and in conjunction with other therapies such as physiotherapy and sports medicine.  The number of treatments varies between clients depending on the type & severity of their condition, their healing time, and the condition of their nerves.   Studies and practice are showing this technique as both safe and very effective in a wide variety of health needs including but not limited to:  chronic back pain, sciatica, athletic performance & training.    According to a report from the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists:  “Research supports that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, normalizes biochemical and electrical dysfunction of motor endplates, and facilitates an accelerated return to active rehabilitation”.

Specific Techniques


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