What is Dry Needling and What is It Good For?

What is Dry Needling and What is It Good For?

Dry needling also known as IMS therapy is a technique that physiotherapists utilize to lengthen or release muscles that could be causing musculoskeletal pain or other painful conditions.  

How it works is very thin needles are inserted into the affected muscles in order stimulate the bodies natural healing processes. 

When the needle is inserted into the muscle it also creates a micro-wound. This tiny wound causes blood to flow into the area, stimulating healing. You see, the longer a muscle has been tight, the less blood flows to the muscle. This can cause the muscle to become tight and sore.

Additionally, dry needling will create a quick, deep muscle contraction which will induce relaxation to the targeted muscle. This will leave you feeling much looser in the treated area.

Read the caption on this post by Infinity Physio Centre to learn more about how IMS works:

What’s dry needling good for?

1.) Tennis elbow

Most think that tennis elbow is only caused by playing tennis but that is just not true. Other things can cause tennis elbow like repetitive movements, jobs that require you to lift heavy objects repeatedly, and other sports like golf, badminton and squash.

Tennis elbow can be a difficult injury to heal from, however dry needling has been shown effective in treating this condition. 

Dry needling can stimulate the injured elbow and forearms to heal, helping you get back to swinging a tennis racket, picking up objects and working pain-free.

Guide to Tennis Elbow courtesy of Cornerstone Physiotherapy (Read the caption)

2.) Hip pain and osteroarthiris in the hip

Do you ever have pain in your groin or on the outside of your hip?

Your hip joint is controlled by large muscles such as your buttocks, hip flexors, and groin muscles

When you have hip arthritis, you may experience muscle tightness because when your muscles try to protect and irritated hip joint they become tense. This tension can actually lead to further compression and irritation of the hip.

That’s where dry needling therapy can help. When paired with physiotherapy it can help loosen these muscles and promote improved mobility and healing.

What is Osteoarthritis courtesy of BeActive Physiotherapy and Wellness. (Read the caption)

3.) Headache

How does dry needling help headaches?

It’s does this by releasing trigger points that could be causing your headache. For people who experience tension headaches, migraines or cervicogenic (headaches produced by the neck) headaches, oftentimes the neck will be a major contributing factor to symptoms. This is because many of the nerves that supply both the neck and the face share a common origin. So if you are straining your neck by sitting at a computer screen all day, this can actually cause headaches. 

To improve your headache symptoms, your therapist will insert the fine needle into the affected neck muscle. This will give you a quick muscle contraction which will cause your neck muscles to relax and help relieve your headaches!

Other conditions it can help are:

1.) Frozen Shoulder and Shoulder Pain

2.) Back pain

3.) Whiplash

4.) Limited Range of Motion in any joint

How many treatments will I need?

It depends on the severity of your condition and other factors like age and past medical history. If the pain has just started within the last few weeks, many notice results in just 1-2 sessions while longer term conditions may need 6-12 sessions to see results.

Is it safe?

Yes! Practitioners use sterile needles similar to acupuncture needles. The only times that dry needling may not be right for someone are for those that have a phobia of needles or for those that are pregnant.

Now to get the best results from Dry needling therapy, it’s usually paired with Physiotherapy or Chiropractic care. To find a dry needling therapist near you just use the search box on this page.


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, it’s usually covered but you should check your insurance company to confirm if yours does.

You may feel sore or achy afterwards in the area treated for about 24-48 hours.

About Taylor Sipos

Taylor is a physiotherapist at The Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic located in Toronto, Ontario. He treats patients with various musculoskeletal conditions using patient education, exercise therapy, manual therapy and acupuncture. His treatment philosophy involves giving his patient’s the means to self-manage their injuries. He does this through reassurance, education and health promotion. Taylor uses the same principles as a patient educator at Pain Hero. He aims to provide you with high-quality, easy to understand information to teach you about your condition and how to improve it.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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