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How Physiotherapists Use Dry Needling to Ease Back Pain

How Physiotherapists Use Dry Needling to Ease Back Pain

If you’ve ever experienced back pain, you know how disruptive it can be to your life. From a nagging ache to sharp, debilitating pain, it can interfere with everything you do. Physiotherapists have a variety of tools at their disposal to help patients find relief, and one technique that is increasing in popularity is dry needling.

Back pain can be caused by myofascial trigger points- bundled spinal muscle that generates pain, tenderness, muscle spasms and referred pain. You may have heard of them referred to as knots. We all have these trigger points, but they remain deactivated. If activated by injury, illness, strain or another trigger, they can cause symptoms like pain.

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a technique in which a physical therapist inserts very thin, sterile needles into specific muscle trigger points. These trigger points are hyperirritable spots within taut bands of muscle that can cause pain, tightness, and restricted range of motion. Dry needling is not the same as acupuncture, though they share similarities.

How Does Dry Needling Work?

  • Trigger Point Release: When the needle is inserted into a trigger point, it causes a localized twitch response. This twitch helps to release the tension in the muscle knot, improving blood flow and reducing pain.
  • Nervous System Modulation: Dry needling may stimulate nerves in a way that reduces pain signals sent to the brain and promotes the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
  • Improved Tissue Healing: The minor stimulation caused by dry needling can promote healing responses in the injured tissues.


What to Expect During a Dry Needling Session

A physiotherapist specializing in dry needling will first perform a comprehensive evaluation of your back pain, including medical history and physical examination. If dry needling is indicated, the following will occur:

  • Locate Trigger Points: The therapist will use their hands to locate tender trigger points.

  • Needle Insertion: They will insert fine needles directly into these trigger points. You might feel a brief stinging sensation or a muscle twitch.

  • Needle in Place: The needles typically remain in place for several minutes.

  • Possible Soreness: You may feel some temporary soreness following the procedure.

Is Dry Needling Right For You?

Dry needling can be a helpful part of a comprehensive treatment plan for many types of back pain, especially when caused by muscle tension and trigger points. It’s important to consult with a qualified physiotherapist to determine if it’s an appropriate option for you.

Dry Needling as Part of Physiotherapy

Dry needling shouldn’t be a standalone treatment and works best when combined with other physiotherapy approaches such as:

  • Exercise: To strengthen back muscles, improve flexibility, and promote proper movement patterns.

  • Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques like massage to release muscle tension.

  • Education: Guidance on how to adjust your posture and daily activities to prevent future back pain flare-ups.

Finding a Qualified Physiotherapist

Not all physioherapists practice dry needling. If you are interested in this treatment, look for a therapist who has received specialized training and certification in dry needling techniques.

Contact Don Kelly Physiotherapist and Acupuncture

Don Kelly is a highly experienced dry needling practitioner in Limerick and Charleville with extensive training in the technique.

For enquiries about dry needling treatment, please contact Don Kelly Physiotherapist at+0863239194 or email us at

Could not recommend Don highly enough. Started treatment for ongoing lower back pain. He was very thorough going through the cause and symptoms and I have huge relief after 5 sessions. Having gone to countless physios, chiropractors etc I will never go anywhere again. Don is an excellent physio.