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What is Dry Needling?
dry needling,Dat Cao,  Native Physical Therapy, Annapolis, Maryland

Dry needling is a treatment for muscle, ligament, and tendon pain. At Native Physical Therapy it is performed by licensed physical therapist, Dr. Dat Cao, with more than 10 years of experience treating orthopedic injuries.

If you’re curious whether Dry Needling could help you, schedule a free consultation to learn more.



What does Dry Needling treat?

Dry Needling is used to treat musculoskeletal pain such as plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff tendonitis, head aches, jaw pain, muscle sprains and strains. It has also been shown to help athletic recovery and enhance sports performance and improve tissue healing.

Is Dry Needling the same as acupuncture?

While the two modalities are similar, the approach is different. Dry Needling is more about precision.

Dry needling is a technique that a certified healthcare provider uses to treat musculoskeletal pain. It’s almost always used as part of a larger treatment plan that includes exercise, stretching, massage and other techniques. During this treatment, a provider inserts thin, sharp needles through your skin to treat underlying myofascial trigger points.

During an acupuncture session, needles are inserted into points along meridian lines. These lines represent the body’s organs, and they are based on ancient Chinese medicine. Acupuncture is based on the idea of balance and restoring proper flow of energy throughout the body.

Who performs Dry Needling?

Dry Needling has been used for decades by Physical Therapists to treat trigger point pain. Depending on the state, dry needling is performed by licensed physical therapists, athletic trainers, acupuncturists, chiropractors or medical doctors who’ve been trained in the procedure.

Maryland has some of the most rigorous requirements for Physical Therapists to be certified to perform Dry Needling.

How long does Dry Needling take to work?

For some conditions, Dry Needling can improve symptoms right away. For most, it may take a few sessions to demonstrate effectiveness.

Why is it called Dry Needling?

Dry Needling uses a monofilament needle to address the mechanical and chemical source of pain and muscle tension. It is called “dry” because there are no medications involved. Wet needling is used for injection of steroids or pain relievers which is the case when you get trigger point injections.

Does Insurance Cover Dry Needling?

Currently, most major insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shields and United Health Care do not cover it as a modality of treatment.

How big are the needles?

The needles are small in gauge. Typically a flu shot is given 22-25 gauge. A needle used for Dry Needling is typically between .18 to .3 gauge. The length will vary on the area, but can range anywhere from 2mm to 8mm long.

How long are the needles inserted?

The needles may remain anywhere from 3-5 seconds. Providers can also use Dry Needling in combination with electrical stimulation to reduce both the number of needles and to enlarge the area of effectiveness. In this case, the needles may remain for up to 20 minutes depending on the person and the condition.