What Does Dry Needling Therapy Do

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Dry needling is a technique used in physical therapy to treat muscle pain, spasms, and dysfunction. It involves inserting very thin monofilament needles into trigger points in the body. Dry needling stimulates the trigger points to elicit a healing response in the tissue. 

This can reduce pain, improve range of motion, and restore muscle function. Dry needling has grown in popularity, and research supports its effectiveness. But many wonder – how exactly does it work?

In this article, we’ll look into the realm of dry needling and its function in enhancing musculoskeletal health, with a particular emphasis on Carter Physiotherapy in Austin, TX, and how their experience in physical therapy in Austin may assist you.

Locates Trigger Points

The dry needling therapy in Austin starts with identifying and targeting trigger points. Trigger points are hyperirritable knots or tight bands of muscle that develop with overuse, poor posture, or injury.

These sensitive areas cause localized pain that can radiate outward. Your physical therapist will palpate during an exam to locate active trigger points and select them for dry needling. Precise needle placement into the trigger point is key.

Deactivates Trigger Points

The team at Carter Physiotherapy inserts a thin, filiform needle into a highly contracted trigger point, causing microtrauma that disrupts the dysfunctional portion of the muscle. This mechanical stimulation deactivates and resets the tightened tissue, releasing the prolonged grip of the muscle fibers. 

Dry needling to the trigger point’s core neutralizes it and allows the muscle to return to a more normal resting length and tension level. This reduces muscle pain and spasms.

Releases Muscle Tension

Dry needling releases excessive muscle tension by disrupting the contracted trigger points. Inserting the thin needle into the rigid tissue causes micro-injuries that stimulate the muscle to relax its prolonged grip. 

This allows the muscle fibers to lengthen back to a normal resting state. Reducing muscle tension improves range of motion, reduces stiffness, and resolves pain caused by the contracted tissue.

Restores Muscle Imbalances

Muscle imbalances frequently contribute to postural dysfunction and movement impairments. Dry needling can help restore muscle balance between overactive and inhibited muscles. 

Needling the tight, overactive muscles will calm them down. Needling weaker inhibited muscles can facilitate or activate them. Rebalancing muscle firing results in better alignment and movement efficiency.

Increases Local Blood Flow

Dry needling enhances blood flow and oxygenation to the needled tissues. The microtrauma created causes localized bleeding, which increases blood flow to aid in tissue repair and waste removal. 

Improved circulation brings fresh oxygen and nutrients to the area for healing. This helps resolve pain and muscle dysfunction. Enhanced blood flow also reduces inflammation.

Improves Range of Motion

By releasing contracted, shortened muscles and reducing local inflammation, dry needling restores normal mobility to the affected joint. 

For example, needling the tight hamstrings improves knee extension range of motion. Releasing a spasmed neck muscle improves rotation. Restoring muscle length and extensibility improves overall flexibility and function. Needling eliminates restrictions.

Provides Cumulative Pain Relief

Dry needling provides significant, cumulative pain relief. Each trigger point treated reduces referred pain patterns in the surrounding region. 

Endorphins and other pain-relieving chemicals are released with needling therapy. Patients experience an immediate analgesic effect after needling treatment. This non-pharmacological pain reduction can have lasting benefits.

Accelerates Healing

Dry needling stimulates a local healing response as the body works to repair the microtrauma. This facilitates tissue regeneration and remodeling. The injury signals the body to lay down new, healthy collagen at the needling site. 

Accelerated healing allows muscles and connective tissue to recover from injury or overuse fully. The tissues remodel to prevent re-injury.

Addresses Nerve Pain

Dry needling can treat nerve-related pain when trigger points develop in muscles adjacent to nerves. Irritation of nearby trigger points can cause nerves to get compressed or entrapped. 

Deactivating the trigger points takes pressure off the affected nerve. Needling also increases blood flow, which is essential for healing compressed nerves. This reduces radiating nerve pain and numbness.


Unlike medications or injections, dry needling treats pain using the body’s vital mechanisms. No drugs enter the bloodstream. There is little risk of side effects or reactions. However, needling still provides robust pain relief by resetting neurological pathways and resolving the local dysfunction in the tissues. For many patients, needling provides similar or better pain relief than drugs.

Dry needling powerfully targets the root cause of neuromusculoskeletal pain – the contracted trigger points restricting normal motion, strength, and flexibility. Precisely applied, the fine needles stimulate remarkable changes deep in the tissues and nervous system. If you are suffering from chronic pain, consider dry needling therapy.

For expert dry-needling treatment in Austin, TX, contact the rehabilitation specialists at Carter Physiotherapy. Their licensed physical therapists are highly trained in dry needling techniques customized to each patient’s condition. Experience better healing without drugs.

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