Dry Needling is a very successful medical treatment which uses very thin needles, without any medication (a dry needle) to achieve its aim. Dry Needling is used to treat pain and dysfunction caused by muscle problems, sinus trouble, headaches, and some nerve problems. It is not at all the same as acupuncture. Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, whereas dry needling is a western medicine technique, which needs to have a medical diagnosis.
Dry Needling works by changing the way your body senses pain (neurological effects), and by helping the body heal stubborn muscle spasm associated with trigger points (myofascial effects). There are additional electrical and chemical changes associated with dry needling therapy which assist in the healing process. It is important to see the needles as just one part of your overall rehabilitative treatment. Dry needling is not a miracle cure, it is just part of physiotherapy. It is vital that you do the exercises and follow the advice your therapist gives you in conjunction with the needling for optimal recovery.
Your therapist has been specifically trained in the various needling techniques. Your therapist will choose a length and thickness of needle appropriate for your condition and your body size, and then insert it through the skin at the appropriate place. You will feel a small pinprick. Depending on the type of needle technique chosen by your therapist, you may also feel a muscle ache and a muscle twitch. These are all normal and good sensations and mean that you will experience good relief from your symptoms.
In general, there is very little risk associated with this technique if preformed properly by a trained physiotherapist. You may have a little bruising around the needle site, much the same as you would with any injection. On rare occasions, people may feel very happy, tearful, sweaty or cold. These symptoms all fade quickly. Fainting may occur in a very small minority of people. There are no lasting ill effects of these side effects.