Functional Dry Needling

Functional Dry Needling is a technique used by Physical Therapists to speed healing, relieve pain by decreasing muscle hypertonicity, increasing joint range of motion, and correcting movement dysfunction through releasing a trigger point adhesion. Dry needling creates a twitch response which is a localized, reflexive response of a dysfunctional area. This twitch response returns the muscle to a normal state by releasing inflammatory chemicals from the trigger point and restoring blood flow to the area.

Spinal Manipulation is a technique where a Physical Therapist, Chiropractor, or Osteopath uses a high velocity low amplitude thrust to a joint of your spine to address misalignment. The amount of force can vary, but the thrust moves the joint into a range of motion that is more anatomical and functional than before.

The utilization of dry needling and spinal manipulation together can be an effective way to address both misalignment and muscular problems.  Often the dry needling will release a trigger point that may be preventing the patient from “adjusting” fully.  Additionally, trigger points may be the reason a person receives manipulation, feels better temporarily, and then returns to a misalignment. 

To get the best outcomes when dry needling and spinal manipulation are combined, the physical therapist will first dry needle a muscle(s) in the spine that may be overactive or hypertonic and then spinal manipulation either by a trained PT or by a Chiropractor.  When these treatments are performed together they can significantly reduce acute pain caused by misalignment and muscle tightness.

To learn more about how Physical Therapy and Chiropractic can work together to improve your neck or back pain please visit

Authored by David Mesnick, PT, OCS, cMDT

About the Author :