What to Expect

After you have filled out the requisite paperwork, your first dry needling appointment will consist of an examination and assessment to gather your current baseline of pain and movement and determine if dry needling is appropriate for you.  This will include a Quantitative Evaluation (QE): palpation of 16 locations (four near each elbow and four near each knee) that is used as a predictor of the efficacy, duration and prognosis of dry needling treatment for each individual. 

As a general rule of thumb, the number of needles used during your appointments will be based on your QE results combined with your response/tolerance to dry needling and the severity of your condition being treated. 

It is very important for the patient to understand sensations they may experience with dry needling and what they signify: 

  • Dull/achy = If you get this sensation, although bizarre-feeling, it is ultimately a desirable sensation that means the muscle needed some attention and you will likely achieve great benefits.  You may feel the muscle spontaneously "grip" the needle -- after several seconds, the muscle "melts away," signifying the muscle has attained normal tension and blood circulation.  Learn to appreciate this sensation, as it represents immediate positive results!​
  • Muscle twitch = This is another encouraging response to dry needling.  Just like with the dull/achy sensation, your muscle will reap instantaneous benefits post-twitch (decreased stiffness, pain, tenderness, etc., laregly due to a massive increase in blood flow.  
  • Sharp = This sensation is related to the penetration and/or breakage of blood vessels.  While bleeding is quite rare (bruising even more rare), dry needling a body covered by an extensive blood circulatory network can lead to this incidental occurrence.
  • Electrical shock or tingling = This means a nerve has been contacted by the needle -- you may feel a quick electrical sensation that will immediately disappear once the needle is readjusted or removed.  It is extremely difficult to pierce a nerve, making nerve damage highly unlikely.

If deemed appropriate by the therapist and agreed upon by the patient, electrical dry needling may be utilized as a way to further facilitate an increased healing response; most patients find this method very beneficial. 

A majority of patients will require eight sessions or less, some requiring fewer than three, to achieve significant or complete abolition of pain that will provide anywhere from six months to several years of pain relief -- and routinely indefinite pain alleviation. Those with chronic pain may require more sessions to achieve pain relief that may last approximately weeks to months.  Again, the effectiveness of dry needling is ultimately dependent on the health of each individual

The first dry needling session will be 60 minutes to allow time for examination and assessment. Subsequent appointments will be dependent on the patient's response and tolerance to dry needling and the extent of their injury.

At least one day between dry needling appointments is suggested.