The Truth About Dry Needling


Have you tried Dry Needling? ?‍♀️?‍♂️?‍♀️ Is it what you expected? Were there any surprises, good or bad? And how would you describe dry needling to a friend who’s considering it for the first time?

There is overwhelming positive feedback about the pain relieving benefits of dry needling. Used for muscle pain, knots, stiffness, and more, inserting a thin needle into the trigger points of these areas can break up tension, release endorphins and stimulate blood flow. Thus, bringing healing to the area of dysfunction. In general, the truth about dry needling is that it can offer on-point, straight-up instant pain relief for many. However, it is not a one size fits all treatment

For me, it wasn’t so cut and dry. Sometimes I would be that patient that I’d read about – the ones who got amazing results after DN. And other times, it didn’t work and made me more sore. Below, I share my truth about dry needling + an additional therapy technique that was the icing on the cake⭐ I hope this gives insight and supports you as you consider physical therapy and dry needling treatments.

How do YOU feel afterwards?

These were my three post-treatment outcomes:
1) As soon as the needle was removed, the pain was immediately gone with increased mobility immediately. Or
2) I would have 1-2 days of soreness with bruising. On the 3rd day I’d feel pain relief and some increase of mobility. Or
3) Right after leaving the office I’d feel tired and achy all over for 1-2 days. At the end of the 2nd day I’d be back to square one. Meaning, same amount of pain with limited range of motion.

Outcome #3 is why I stopped doing dry needling. 

Fatigue, soreness and aching are confirmed side effects that happen to some people, unfortunately. I was very frustrated that this was happening, but found no solutions online explaining how to prevent it. At that time with an infant son and my back really struggling to do its job, I decided that prolonged body aches and tiredness was not something I could gamble on and endure. Bye, needles. 

We proceeded with a comprehensive treatment approach. My back and shoulder were a little better and I had the best abs of all my life. Yet, it wasn’t enough. I was pushing through pain and really needed dry needling to heal the deeper myofascial areas.

Outcome #’s 1 and 2 was why I returned to dry needling.

Refusing to let the outcome be a toss up this time around, I determined to figure out what things I could do to increase my chances of a favorable result. Thankfully, since discovering these modifications, most DN sessions have been a success. These are personal body-awareness discoveries that have made a huge difference for me.
Please note that they are subjective and non-scientific

Here are my tips for dry needling efficacy 

  • Appointments first thing in the morning. This allows me 12-14 hrs post needling to keep moving for blood flow, as well as drink more water throughout the day (vs a later day appt where I’m hitting the hay shortly thereafter.)
  • No DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) with DN. No matter what part of the body. If my lower body is sore from yesterday’s workout, but PT is working on my shoulder today, no interference right? Maybe for some, but not for me. If I allow needling while I’m sore, anywhere, my entire body will feel worse.
  • The therapist warms my muscles first. Hands on manual therapy preceding DN makes a huge difference in outcome. Not just feeling around finding trigger points hands on but further deep tissue stimulation and massage of affected muscle bands.
  • The therapist does more hands on therapy after. This sequential order of manual therapy, dry needling, then manual therapy again gives me the best relief. 
  • When really hurting, don’t do it. I would arrive at PT feeling miserable from back pain, knowing my whole body was exhausted and yearning for relief in any way. So I’d say, needle me right now pleeeeze! Wrong. For me, it seems when I’m really sensitive or run down, if I allow DN, this is when I get Outcome #3 of achy days, no relief and a vicious cycle of soreness begins. I stick with non-invasive treatments until I’m over the hump.

Visceral Manipulation’s healing effects are both puzzling and amazing to me.

And I think every person should try it. Especially if you’re a mom – before and after pregnancy. I WISH I had this treatment during the times when my body was tender, post-partum and my nervous system was a mess. 

Visceral Manipulation is a subtle, soft hands on therapy of the viscera around the body’s internal organs. A gentle belly massage! I have no idea what exactly is being massaged or mobilized while it’s happening, but afterwards I do feel better. Performed after dry needling, it calms my body and gives release to internal fascial tension, often eliminating any last bit of pain. VM is a gentle, calming and holistic therapy that has noticeably increased my range of motion. 

In closing, the truth about dry needling is that it can rapidly and efficiently reduce pain.

A simple 15 minute dry needling session can be an amazing reset for your body. Thankfully, with state of the art physical therapists who listened to my needs and gave me so much patience, I was able to discover the right combination of treatment factors that no amount of internet searching ever gave me. I can now experience the benefits of this holistic, drug-free treatment. 

To all the moms and dads out there carrying car seats, carrying kids, losing sleep, skipping workouts, feeling backaches neckaches headaches… this post is for you. As we care for our family, it’s a given that certain stages leave us with no choice but to forfeit self care. I’d like to encourage you, when you are able, to give yourself the gift of a physical therapy visit. Whether through dry needling or other modes of therapy, the wellness and restoration PT can provide is something we all deserve.

Because wearing our shoulders like earrings is just not a style we can keep up. 

Remember those initial questions? If you feel comfortable doing so, would you please leave a comment about your dry needling experience or insight? Your advice, tips and feedback is greatly appreciated. Or you can message me here or on the ‘Gram.

Thank you so much for reading and for being part of this wonderful community of Seacoast Moms!


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