Dry needling is a broad term used to differentiate “non-injection” needling from the practice of “injection needling” which utilises a hyperdermic syringe and usually involves the injection of an agent such as saline, local anaesthetic or corticosteroid into the tissue or specific anatomical structures .In contrast to this, dry needling utilises a solid, filament needle, as is used in the practice of acupuncture, and relies on the stimulation of specific reactions in the target tissue for its therapeutic effect.
The term dry needling is also used to differentiate the use of needling in a western physiological paradigm from the use of needling in an oriental paradigm which is referred to as acupuncture.
There are several popular, well established schools of dry needling practice and they commonly involve the needling of myofascial trigger points using acupuncture needles to deactivate and help resolve trigger points.
There are many limitations to this approach however and practitioners using such an approach are unlikely to achieve reliable results with the majority of the clients they see. This partly due to the limited variety in needle technique used and the reliance on the presence of trigger points. Consequently many practioners, after an initial burst of enthusiasm post studying dry needling, apply it less and less in the clinic until it it is barely being used by them at all.
The dry needling plus approach addresses many of the limitations of established dry needling practice by differentiating between a variety of needling techniques and applying them to specific changes identified in the tissue by means of skilled palpation and logical, range based physical assessment .
The dry needling plus approach demands a higher skill level of the practitioner than other approaches,however the rewards of investing time in attaining excellent assessment skills and needle technique are many.
In the hands of a skilled practitioner, dry needling can be used in most cases the majority of the time and with less energy expenditure on behalf of the practitioner and equal or better effect than other manual techniques currently being used.If practiced well there is also a remarkable absence of the “post treatment tissue soreness” often experienced by the subject following other manual therapy interventions.