Trigger Point Dry Needling is a technique utilized by many manual therapists. It involves the placement of thin sterile needles

Doctor uses needles for treatment of the patient

(similar to that used in acupuncture) into muscle trigger points, otherwise known as knots in the muscle.  Trigger Point Dry Needling has increasing evidence to support its use for “reduction in immediate, local, referred and wide spread pain”(Dommerholt, 2011).

How does this differ from acupuncture?

Trigger Point Dry Needling is a Western form of needling and is used to modify pain signals, alter the chemical environment at the trigger point site and improve range of motion and muscle pattern activation (Dommerholt, 2011). Acupuncture however is part of traditional Chinese Medicine, where needles are inserted into specific points on the skin (known as acupoints). This process is believed to adjust and alter the body’s energy flow into healthier patterns (Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine (2008)).

What should I expect if receiving Trigger Point Dry Needling?

Insertion of the needle is rarely felt, however when needling occurs to a painful trigger point it can evoke a “twitch” response from the muscle, this is a desirable reaction. Patients commonly feel heaviness in their muscle or a deeper ache sensation followed by release. It can be common for muscle soreness to be felt for up to 24-48hrs post needling, which will then subside. Drinking plenty of water and applying ice to the area can often help reduce this soreness.

Trigger Point Dry Needing and Osteopathy

Trigger Point Dry Needling often requires Osteopaths to complete a small amount of extra study to be qualified in this technique. It is more commonly utilized in conjunction with other manual therapy techniques, such as stretching, soft tissue work and joint mobilization instead of a stand-alone treatment. When used with the correct diagnosis and other manual therapy techniques it can potentially facilitate a “rapid reduction in pain and return to function.” (Dommerholt, 2011). Trigger Point Dry Needling is said to be a safe and often effective form of treatment, which lies within the scope of practice for manual therapists (Unverzagt, C., Berglund, K., & Thomas, J. J. (2015).

Trigger Point Dry Needling at Southside Clinic

Most of the Osteopaths at Southside Clinic are qualified in Trigger Point Dry Needling, and find that it is great to release muscular tension in conditions such as low back pain, shin splints, tennis and golfers elbow, headaches and neck tension, RSI, postural strain and fibromyalgia. If you would like to speak to one of our Osteopaths about how Trigger Point Dry Needling could be incorporated into your Osteopathy treatment, please call us on 1300 10 11 22, or email .


By Dr Miranda Laidlaw (Osteopath)

Southside Clinic

Unley, South Australia

1300 10 11 22

Of course, each individual situation is different. For professional advice relating to your circumstance, please contact Southside Clinic to book an appointment with Dr Miranda Laidlaw, or any one of our Registered Osteopaths.


Dommerholt, J. (2011). Dry needling — peripheral and central considerations. Journal Of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, 19(4), 223-227.×13129729552065

acupuncture. (n.d.) Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. (2008). Retrieved May 9 2017 from

Abbaszadeh-Amirdehi, M., Ansari, N., Naghdi, S., Olyaei, G., & Nourbakhsh, M. (2013). The neurophysiological effects of dry needling in patients with upper trapezius myofascial trigger points: study protocol of a controlled clinical trial. BMJ Open, 3(5), e002825.

Unverzagt, C., Berglund, K., & Thomas, J. J. (2015). DRY NEEDLING FOR MYOFASCIAL TRIGGER POINT PAIN: A CLINICAL COMMENTARY. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 10(3), 402–418.