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Dry Needling: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jun 20, 2024

What is the treatment?

Myofascial Trigger Point Dry Needling

How is the treatment done?

Dry needling is a procedure which is used to relieve pain caused due to myofascial pain syndrome. The form of treatment is often also referred to as intramuscular stimulation or IMS. The entire treatment relies on specialized points on the body, which are known as Ah Shi points. These points often coincide with trigger points in the body.

Usually, the Ah Shi points are punctured during a procedure known as Acupuncture, which is quite different from the dry needling process. However, due to the use of the trigger points in the treatment, people have started referring to the same as Myofascial Acupuncture.

The treatment was devised by Karel Lewitt and used in 1979 for the first time. During this period, Lewitt determined that when a needle is inserted into a Myofascial trigger point, it led to relief from the pain caused by the Myofascial pain syndrome. Lewitt also noticed that the needle did not even need to carry analgesics for the relief, as the cause for the relief was the puncture caused by the needle itself.

Studies have been unable to find concrete evidence regarding the efficacy of the dry needling procedure. However, many patients claimed that they received benefits and relief from the pain after the treatment.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Dry needling is an invasive procedure, but it does not involve standard surgery. In case of myofascial pain syndrome, dry needling is used. In this treatment, filiform needles are inserted into the trigger points. These trigger points are responsible for causing the pain related to the syndrome. Puncturing the knots of the trigger points relieves the pain in the region.

When a needle is inserted properly into the trigger point, it will cause a small muscular twitch reaction. This response is called a local twitch response or LTR. This is an involuntary movement of the muscle caused by the spinal cord. When an LTR response results from the dry needling, the treatment has a better chance of relieving pain when compared to the dry needling procedure where LTR is not elicited.

There is a risk of experiencing severe pain when it comes to inserting the needles into the muscles of the body. However, experts on the treatment can do the same without any significant discomfort to the person undergoing it. Since there is no evidence as to whether the treatment works as intended, it is usually advisable to seek other forms of treatment for the myofascial pain syndrome.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Dry needling is only done when a patient suffers from severe myofascial pain syndrome. This pain can be caused at any parts of the body. There are no exceptions for the treatment and even the elderly people can seek dry needling. However, you should seek the advice of a qualified physician before you run off to enroll yourself for the procedure.


Are there any side effects?

People who do not suffer from the myofascial pain syndrome do not need to undergo dry needling. Furthermore, this form of treatment is considered to be a part of alternate medicine, which is why patients should seek out the traditional solutions before going for a dry needling. In case you want to avoid a painful experience, you need to stay away from dry needling, as it may sometimes cause a lot of pain.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Dry needling is usually considered to be a safe procedure for all people, who are not afraid of needles or are anxious about a bit of pain. However, side effects are common for the procedure as well. These effects may include sharp pain at the point of insertion, fatigue, soreness of the muscles and even bruising.

When the trigger points in the neck, shoulders and face are punctured with needles, it may lead to headaches. Doctors also advise against children under the age of 12 years from undergoing the treatment. If in some case a child must undergo the dry needling, the consent of the child is needed after he/she is properly explained what the procedure involves.

How long does it take to recover?

After a session of dry needling, doctors usually assess a few aspects in the patients. The three specifics that needs to be monitored in the patient includes, the range of motion in the muscles. Some people may face difficulty while moving their hands or legs. Additionally, patients may also be asked to perform stretching exercises in order to improve the muscle movements

Following the dry needling, patients are also monitored to determine which activities are responsible for the recurrence of the myofascial pain syndrome. This helps to avoid the pain in the future by avoiding those activities.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Recovery is usually instantaneous and you will likely get relief from the pain as soon as the needle is inserted into the trigger points. However, for some, the entire dry needling procedure may turn out to have very limited effect. Aside from this, the pain caused due to improper needling may take some time to heal. The same is true for bruising and headaches caused as a result of the dry needling.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The cost of the treatment differs from one place to the other. However, a single session of dry needling may cost anywhere between Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Results are not permanent and there are no guarantees that all people will receive the same effect. In case of Myofascial pain syndrome, one session of the dry needling may relieve the pain temporarily. However, engaging in certain activities can very easily lead to the symptoms returning.


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Written ByDr. Jyoti MongaBachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery (BAMS)Ayurveda
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Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician
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