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Fight Pain With Dry Needling

Therapist inserting a needle into the back of patient

Did you know some of your pain and tightness may be due in part to trigger points? Did you also know that some physical therapists at Phoenix are certified to perform trigger point dry needling to target these problem areas?

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, dry needling is a technique some physical therapists use for the treatment of pain and movement impairments. The technique uses a “dry” needle, one without medication or injection, inserted through the skin into the muscle. Other terms commonly used to describe it include “Trigger Point Dry Needling” and “Intramuscular Manual Therapy.”

Dry needling is NOT acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists. Rather, dry needling is a part of modern Western medicine principles and supported by research.

Dry needling is one treatment technique that is part of a larger treatment plan developed by your Phoenix Physical Therapist after their thorough evaluation.

The goal is to release or inactivate the trigger point. One currently supported theory on how this occurs is called the Motor Endplate Hypothesis (1,2).

The motor endplate is the site where the nerves transmit signals to muscles. The needle is theorized to “reset” this area resulting in reduced muscle tension and reduced pain. Often, muscle twitches can be seen or felt. 

Is it painful you ask? Have you ever pushed on a trigger point “knot” yourself? Dry Needling is usually less painful than that. Usually, the needle insertion itself is very mild and often not felt at all. Once the trigger point is contacted, this can feel like an ache or a muscle twitch. This is more of an unfamiliar feeling versus pain. The process can be very quick and often results in treatment success within seconds. Ask your Phoenix Physical Therapist today about this very powerful treatment! 

*The above article was written by Jordon Moore, PT. He is a Physical Therapist and Facility Director at one of our newest locations in Chesapeake, Virginia. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists and is dedicated to the positive progression of Physical Therapy. 


  1. Simons DG, Hong C-Z, Simons LS. Endplate potentials are common to mid fiber myofascial trigger points. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2002;81(3):212-222. 17. 
  2. Simons DG. Review of enigmatic MTrPs as a common cause of enigmatic musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2004;14:95-107.