What Is Dry Needling? (Hint: It’s Not Acupuncture!)

– by Stephanie Hansen, PT, DPT, CSCS, CEAS, Peak Form Clinic Director, Boulder

Stephanie Blankemeier

Modern Dry Needling — unlike acupuncture — is a Western-based medical practice.

Dry needlingRooted in the study of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, Dry Needling begins with a thorough physical therapy evaluation and utilizes long filament needles inserted into muscle trigger points to address impairments in muscles and soft tissues.  (A trigger point is tight area causing pain and is located within larger muscle tissue.)  Physical Therapists utilize dry needling as part of an overall approach to the individual management of patients.

Physical Therapists have been providing dry needing treatments for 15+ years in Colorado, but lately there have been some questions raised about how effective this therapy is, and who’s allowed to practice it.  Here are some answers to those questions.

What Are the Benefits of Dry Needling?

Dry NeedlingDry Needling provides pain relief treatment that helps reduce medication use by 75%.

The American Physical Therapy Association, Colorado chapter, reports that their data on 25,000+ patient treatment sessions shows patients confirm that dry needling provides:

  • Substantial health benefits
  • Pain reduction
  • Significant functional gains.

In a survey of over 2,000 Colorado physical therapy patients, 96% reported that they would of not have received the same functional improvement without dry needling.

Who Is Allowed to Give Dry Needling Treatments?

A great deal of training and education is required before a physical therapist is allowed to include dry needling as part of their practice:

  • Must have practiced as a licensed physical therapist for at least 2 years
  • Must complete a course consisting of a minimum of 46 hours of in-person (not online) dry needling training
  • Must complete 200+ training sessions prior to treatment of patients
  • Must have a post-graduate education, at a post-Doctoral level, after over 3,500 hours of formal educationwith a focus on neuromusculoskeletal impairments.

Should I give Dry Needling A Try?

A Physical Therapist will evaluate your condition and let you know if dry needling treatments are a good option for you.

Listen to what Colorado patients have to see about the value of dry needling:

“I think it’s the best treatment I’ve ever had for back pain.”

“I was able to stop using pain relief meds immediately as a result of dry needling. Overall improvement of my conditions was immediate.”

“I feel that it helped me deal with the pain without having to take some kind of pain medicine or narcotic.”

 “I have recommended DN to MANY people, telling them of the positive results I have had, when other treatments did not help.”


-> Take a look at Dry Needling in action in this video by Stephanie Hansen.