What is Dry Needling and How Can it Help Me?
By Tyler Guymon, DPT
AZOPT Physical Therapist

On October 22, 2013, the Arizona State Physical Therapy Board determined that Dry Needling is within the scope of physical therapy practice and can be implanted by licensed physical therapists throughout the state of Arizona.

So what is Dry Needling?

The Arizona Physical Therapy Board defines Dry Needling as “a skilled intervention performed by a physical therapist that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying neural, muscular and connective tissues.” According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (AAOMPT), Dry Needling is a technique used in conjunction with manual therapy interventions. Research supports the notion that Dry Needling improves pain, reduces muscle tension, normalizes biochemical and electrical dysfunction of motor endplates, and facilitates an accelerated return to active rehabilitation.

At AZOPT, a licensed and Dry Needling certified physical therapist will assess and determine the most appropriate location for the application of the needles. Once the needles are inserted into the target area, they are usually left in place between 10 and 30 minutes depending on the location and condition being treating. It can also be effective to use electrical stimulation with the needles for a certain desired effect.

Any patient that presents with complaints of muscle pain, joint pain, muscle stiffness, muscle atrophy, or other chronic aches and pains that just won’t go away may benefit from Dry Needling. Some common conditions that can be treated by Dry Needling include, but are not limited to:

  • Rotator Cuff Injury
  • Headaches
  • Low Back Pain
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Lateral Epicondylitis

Wait, is it safe?

Understand, anytime the body is penetrated by a needle, there is an inherent risk of possible injury. Every healthcare professional is guided by the principle to “Do No Harm” and therefore every physical therapist would need to weigh the risk against the reward associated with each patient seeking to use Dry Needling in their rehab process. That said, Dry Needling has been performed in Arizona for the past 30 years and not a single complaint has been filed against a physical therapist due to harm or negligence while utilizing thin filiform needles.

AZOPT currently has two licensed physical therapists who are certified in Dry Needling.  When considering the best options for your overall health and wellness, look into all treatment possibilities offered by your physical therapist to ensure the best recipe for getting you back to what you enjoy doing – pain free!