Trigger Point Dry Needling

It is well known that joints and nerves are a common source of pain. However muscles, as a source of pain, have often been overlooked. If you have ever had pain or if you currently suffer with pain, you may have noticed painful knots in your muscles.


Trigger points are taut bands located within muscle tissue. For many different reasons, these taut bands may become hyperirritable and begin causing pain. They may even refer pain to different areas of the body. For example, trigger points in the rotator cuff muscles may refer pain down the outside of your arm. This pain could be mistaken for a pinched nerve in the neck.

There are many different ways to treat trigger points. The most common treatment is massage or “trigger point release.” The most effective way to treat trigger points is trigger point dry needling. Trigger point dry needing is the process by which a small needle is inserted into the trigger point within the muscle tissue. Once the needle is in the trigger point, a “twitch response” is felt. Patients often report that a twitch response is similar to feeling a “Charlie horse” but to a smaller degree. It is simply a small spasm within the muscle tissue. With the twitch response, the trigger point is released.

With trigger point dry needling, patients frequently notice an immediate reduction in pain and improved motion. Some patients will have mild soreness from the procedure, which may last a day or two. If the complaint is due to a chronic condition, patients may require more treatments than if the pain is acute.

Implementing trigger point dry needling into our treatment programs has been a game changer for our practice. Many patients fail to respond to traditional therapy such as exercise and modalities. For these patients, many have had dramatic improvement in their quality of life.

If you are interested in learning more about trigger point dry needling, please check out the video and link below. In the video I demonstrate the procedure in the upper trapezius muscle that is often a source of pain in patients with shoulder dysfunction and/or headaches.

Trigger Point Dry Needling Handout