Dry Needling

What is Dry Needling? –Dry Needling is an invasive procedure in which a sterile, solid filament needle is inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point. No medication is used in the procedure giving way to the name “dry” and the needles are disposed of after each use.

Is Dry Needling similar to acupuncture? Dry Needling is strictly based on Western medicine principles and research. Physical Therapists perform Dry Needling, not acupuncture. The only similarity is the tool used.

This is a picture of Troy Bishop, PT, DSc, Cert. MDT, CMTPT administers Dry Needling on a patient in her Suffolk, Virginia Clinic

Troy Bishop, PT, DSc, Cert. MDT, CMTPT administers Dry Needling on a patient in her Suffolk, Virginia Clinic

How does Dry Needling therapy work? –There are mechanical, biomechanical and biochemical effects associated with the procedure. Inserting a needle into trigger points can cause favorable responses which are the first step in breaking the pain cycle.  The increased blood flow, oxygen and change in pH level of the treated area can lead to pain reduction.

What type of problems can be treated with Dry Needling? –Dry Needling can be used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. Such conditions include, but are not limited to: Neck pain, Shoulder pain, Lower Back pain, Tennis Elbow, Carpal tunnel, TMJ pain, Muscle strains, Headaches and Sciatica

How do I know if Dry Needling is right for me? The treatment is used for a variety of acute and chronic pain conditions on people of all ages. Talk through the options with a Tidewater Physical Therapist and your doctor to consider all options and treatments available in order to make the most educated decisions.

Is the procedure painful? –Most patients do not feel the insertion of the needle. When the needle contacts a trigger point, a localized twitch can elicit a very brief painful response. Some patients describe this as a little electrical shock; others feel it more like a cramping sensation.

Can I do Dry Needling at home? – No. Dry Needling should only be performed by licensed professionals in a clinical setting.

What side effects can I expect after the treatment? –Most patients report being sore after the procedure. Typically, the soreness lasts between a few hours and two days.

This is a picture of Bruce Brewer PT, MSPT, CMTPT uses Dry Needling to ease a patients discomfort

Bruce Brewer PT, MSPT, CMTPT uses Dry Needling to ease a patients discomfort

How long does it take for the procedure to work? – Improvements in symptoms can occur immediately. At times is may take multiple visits for a positive response to take place.

Where does Dry Needling fit in the entire rehabilitation program? –Dry Needling is used in addition to therapeutic exercises, therapeutic modalities, and other manual techniques to treat various musculoskeletal conditions.

Do I need a prescription? –Yes, in the state of Virginia the procedure requires a physician prescription. If you decide Dry Needling is right for you, a Tidewater Physical Therapist can work with your physician to get a prescription for you.

At Tidewater Physical Therapy, we practice a sensible and conservative approach to Dry Needling.  While we believe in the benefits and have seen the positive outcomes for our patients first hand, we know it is not right for every patient.  Specifically, Dry Needling is not recommended for those on high-dose blood thinners or patients at an increased risk for infection because of blood disorders or those undergoing chemotherapy.


Dry Needling is offered at the following clinics: Richmond – Powhatan, BrandermillWesthampton, Mechanicsville, Colonial Heights, Glen Allen.  In Williamsburg at the Advanced Specialty Center and in Gloucester at the Gloucester Point clinic.  On the Peninsula – Denbigh, Oyster Point, Hidenwood, and Magruder.  South Hampton Roads – Red Mill, Kempsville, Franklin, Great Bridge and Suffolk.