Dry Needling VS Acupuncture

Dry Needling

Dry Needling

Dry needling can treat an enormous range of conditions, from muscular pain to carpal tunnel and plantar fasciitis.

What is a Trigger Point?

Trigger point dry needling is a treatment for muscular tightness and spasms which commonly follow injuries and often accompany the degenerative processes. Thin, solid filament needles are inserted into the muscle’s trigger point to help it to relax, lengthen and decrease pain. A trigger point is an area in the muscle that is painful to the touch and can sometimes radiate or spread the painful sensation. A trigger point is a collection of muscle tissue caught in a state of constant contraction causing tension, less movement, and pain. The use of needles to these trigger points is a way to help the muscle relax, lengthen and return to a less painful state.

What is Trigger Point Dry Needling?

Trigger Point Dry Needling

TDN is a treatment for muscular tightness and spasms which commonly follows injuries and often accompanies the degenerative process. This muscular tightness and spasm will cause compression and irritation of the nerves exiting the spine. When the nerves are irritated, they cause a protective spasm of all the muscles to which they are connected.

This may cause peripheral diagnosis, such as carpal tunnel, tendonitis, osteoarthritis, muscles at the trigger points causing the pain referral. The muscles would then contract and release, improving the flexibility of the muscle and decreasing symptoms. Trigger point dry needling is something we do offer at Preferred Physical Therapy in Glendale, Arizona.

What does Dry Needling Treat?

Dry Needling treats muscle tissue and its objective is to reduce pain. Some things that dry needling treats are joint pain, tendonitis, spinal problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.

Pros and Cons of Dry Needling


  • Dry needling allows for more precise treatment. The physical therapist is able to target specific muscles compared to other techniques used such as exercises and hands-on therapy. Dry needling allows for that specific point to be targeted and offers relief to that area.
  • Dry needling can help you recover faster. Dry needling increases the blood flow to the area increasing the range of motion and time of repair. It may help to reduce pain and muscle spasms associated with your injury.
  • Less Invasive than other treatments. If you are in an immense amount of pain this treatment is a good option. If you can not perform exercises due to too much pain or swelling this treatment can help to reduce those things and allow you to eventually be able to do other sorts of treatments.


  • Needling can bring swelling. Wherever the needle is inserted you may see some swelling and bruising but nothing too severe. Needling may cause some minimal pain at first but over time decrease the same with bruising.

The Benefits

This minimally invasive technique has been shown to effectively decrease muscle tension and tone, improve range of motion, and relieve pain.

The addition of the electrical stimulation acts as an addition to enhance the treatment effect for pain relief. Electrical stimulation helps to stimulate blood flow and provide an analgesic effect to help numb the pain, providing more long-term benefits.

Read why Preferred Physical Therapy was rated top 3 best physical therapists in Glendale, Arizona.

Is Trigger Point Dry Needling the same as Acupuncture?

Click here to see how a physical therapist uses dry needling at Preferred Physical Therapy in az.

It’s important to note that dry needling is not the same as acupuncture. These treatments use similar tools but this is where the similarities end. Acupuncture is based on Eastern medicine, while dry needling is rooted in Western medicine, focusing on pain patterns, posture, and movement impairments.

Acupuncture focuses on trying to relieve pain by opening up one’s energy flow. While trigger point needling focuses on stimulating the muscle and trigger points. Deciding between acupuncture and dry needling all comes down to your personal choice and consulting a medical practitioner.

To learn more about what trigger point dry needling is check out this Video


Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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