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Dry Needling and Acupuncture is a common treatment modality used by many health professionals, physiotherapists included. All of our physiotherapists at Refine Physiotherapy & Pilates have undertaken post-graduate courses to become qualified in providing Dry Needling and Western Acupuncture.

Used in the correct manner, Dry Needling and Acupuncture can be effective in treating many conditions. These include neck pain, lower back pain, shoulder pain, elbow injuries and knee and foot injuries.

What Does Dry Needling / Acupuncture Involve?

Dry Needling and Acupuncture involves inserting several thin needles into areas of muscular pain and stiffness in order to achieve relief of pain, increased range of movement and improved flexibility. Dry needling is defined by the Boards of Physical Therapy as an intramuscular procedure involving the isolated treatment of myofascial trigger points. In addition to targeting specific trigger points, there is research to support that dry needling includes the stimulation of neural, muscular and connective tissues (such as fascia) for the purpose of reducing pain or disability.

It is a very safe practice when performed by a qualified and accredited professional. For some patients, Dry Needling and Acupuncture may cause some associated side effects which can include, minor bruising, bleeding and tenderness at the site. These risks are uncommon and are short-lived.

Is Dry Needling / Acupuncture Backed with Research?


The type of Acupuncture that we perform at Refine, and our Clinicians are trained in is called Dry Needling and Western Acupuncture. This is different from what many people traditionally have in mind when thinking about Acupuncture or “Chinese Acupuncture”.

Dry Needling and Western Acupuncture focuses on treating muscular pain in attempting to release tension from knots or pressure points. The clinical term for these pressure points as mentioned above is Muscular Trigger Points or MTrP.

Research has proven that these “trigger points” are common in patients who suffer from pain or disability.

This 2018 review by Ribeiro, Belgrave, et. al., reported on the prevalence of these myofascial trigger points in patients with shoulder pain and dysfunction. Another review written by Morihisa, Eskew and colleagues in 2016 stated that Dry Needling was effective in treating and reducing pain in trigger points.

Furthermore, this article found that trigger points can be the primary source of pain in 30-85% of patients presenting with a musculoskeletal complaint (muscular pain). If you are interested in learning more about Dry Needling and Acupuncture, or Muscular Trigger Points, here is a good article to read up on, alternatively, feel free to call us for a FREE phone consult to determine whether we think Dry Needling and Acupuncture will be a good treatment option for you.

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What does it feel like?

Usually, in healthy muscles, very little discomfort will be felt with the insertion of the needles and for the duration of the application. However, for sensitive muscles that are shortened and contain active trigger points, insertion of the needles may elicit what is termed a ‘twitch response’. This feeling is similar to the feeling of a muscle cramp, however, only lasts for a few seconds. The ‘twitch response’ is, in fact, the response that we are hoping to achieve for best results.

What is a twitch response?

The twitch response is an important consequence that is sometimes elicited in certain forms of acupuncture. There is evidence to support that eliciting this response can have some benefits in the body which include mechanical, electrophysiological, chemical and neurophysiological effects. The local effects on the muscle attributed with acupuncture and dry needling include:
☑ Increased oxygen
☑ Relaxation of the tight muscle
☑ Promoting healing
☑ Regulation or elicitation of chemical responses involved in muscle contraction and relaxation

How many treatments will I need?

Typically, results are seen by the end of 3-5 treatment sessions, however this will be dependent on your injury and your symptoms. Your clinician will determine after the initial assessment how many sessions is appropriate for your case.