Types of Dry Needling and How to Choose the Right One

Types of Dry Needling

Table of Contents

Types of Dry Needling

What is dry needling?

Dry needling is a cutting-edge treatment that is used to relieve muscle pain. A physician sticks multiple filiform needles into the skin during dry needling. These needles are stainless steel needles that are fine and short and do not pump fluid into the body. As a result, the word “dry” is used.

The needles are inserted into “trigger points” in your muscle or tissue by specialists. Dry needling is also known as intramuscular relaxation. The points are knotted or hardened regions of the muscle.

According to dry needling experts, the needle aids in removing the knot and relieve muscle pain and spasms. The needles will stick in the skin for a brief time. The specialist determines the duration. Some healthcare professionals, such as occupational therapy and massage therapists, are trained in dry needling.

What are the advantages of dry needling?

Any muscle pain and stiffness may be relieved with dry needling. Furthermore, releasing trigger points can boost versatility and range of motion. As a result, this method is often used to treat athletic injuries, body pain, and even fibromyalgia pain.


While there are no standards for practice, healthy dry needling procedures will become more systematic as more information becomes possible.

What is TDN used to treat?

TDN is a safe and efficient therapy for a diverse variety of muscular conditions, including:

  • Chronic Pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Overuse injuries
  • Tendonitis, Bursitis
  • Repetitive strain injuries

Your Physiotherapist at Kanata Orthopaedic Physiotherapy Clinic is trained in the safe and effective use of Trigger Point Dry Needling to treat all of the muscle pain problems via postgraduate course work.

Different Types of Dry Needling You Should Be Aware Of

Trigger Point

Trigger point dry needling is just as it looks like: when an activated trigger point causes the patient’s pain, you will use a needle to target the specific spot before it stops. If the patient’s pain generator is an active trigger point, trigger point dry needling is a very effective dry needling technique. 

Risk: Medium – If a trigger point is not the source of the pain, this form of dry needling will be ineffective, and you will need to choose another process.

Needle Length: It is determined by the depth of the muscle being treated, the patient’s age, and any anatomical risk factors in the area being treated. The size could range from 25 mm to 125 mm. 

Example Use Case: If a patient’s myofascial pain in the neck is caused by a trigger point in the upper trapezius, trigger point dry needling will help.


Most hands-on healthcare practitioners use superficial dry needling. The needle is only implanted a few millimetres into the flesh, touching the epidermal layer and missing muscle and bone. This needling technique focuses on the sensorimotor system: the needle alters sensory feedback, thus altering motor performance. 

Risk: Low – Since the needle does not penetrate several layers of the body, there is a much smaller risk of damaging internal organs or neurovascular systems.

Needle Length: A small needle, merely a few millimetres in length, is usually used. Typical ranges are from .3mm to 10mm.

Example Use Case: In dangerous places, such as the thoracic spine, doctors risk puncturing a lung if the needle is stuck too profoundly. Superficial dry needling is an excellent way to improve or adjust this patient’s pain tolerance while preventing harm.


Deep dry needling is a more skilled form of needling that specifically affects the muscle. Manually controlling a particular muscle in certain parts of the body can be difficult based on the target muscle’s position and the tissues surrounding the target muscle. Deep dry needling helps doctors enter the target muscle to alter pain tolerance, affect scar tissue, or relax/decrease tightness. 

Risk: High – Deep dry needling, including exercise therapy, laser therapy, ultrasound, and other treatments, can be risky if you don’t know a lot about human anatomy. 

Needle Length: 15mm-125mm 

Periosteal Pecking

Periosteal pecking is the practice of using a dry needle to peck at the bone to aid in recovery. Other reasons we believe periosteal pecking is flourishing, particularly in knee osteoarthritis, include hyaluronic acid synthesis, anti-inflammatory mechanisms, and increases in endogenous opioid levels.

Risk: High – Inserting a needle into the joint capsule is dangerous. Each patient must consider surgical implants and infection risk factors.

Needle Length: Deep enough to get up to or down to the bone. The length can vary depending on the scale of the patient and the area being needled.

Electrical Stimulation

Using electric current to the needles is a specialized method of dry needling. The addition of electrical stimuli causes a neuroendocrine reaction that is distinct from needles alone. This form of dry needling stimulates various pain control centers and pathways in the central nervous system, making it a viable option for chronic pain patients and osteoarthritic patients.

Risk: Moderate – Certain factors, such as pacemakers, preclude the use of electrical stimulation. Must consider the possibility of such structural problems on an individual basis.

Needle Length: Deep – Since there is an insufficient purchase of the epidermis with superficial needling to attach electrical stimulation, the needle must be in the skin or even down to the bone if using electrical stimulation to do periosteal pecking.

Your Physiotherapist at Kanata Orthopaedic Physiotherapy Clinic is trained through post-graduate coursework in the use of both Trigger Point Dry Needling and Acupuncture and will be more than happy to discuss the benefits of both options with you. When performed by a Physiotherapist, TDN and Acupuncture treatments are considered part of your general treatment plan. Therefore, there is no extra cost to you as a patient, and you can claim the treatment for insurance purposes in the same way you would any regular Physiotherapy session.

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