Skip to main content

Dry needling by physical therapists is a hot topic. What's fact? What's fiction? Take a look beneath the surface.

Feature Dry Needling 2

Ask Karen Kitchener what the words "dry needling" mean to her and there is no equivocation.

"Transformation," she says. "Five years ago I primarily was sitting in a wheelchair. Today I'm regularly walking 3 miles. The difference dry needling has made in my life hasn't simply been physical, but also social and psychological. I feel more hopeful and less depressed. I can do so much more that I could do before. The effects have been cumulative."

Kitchener, now-retired former director of the counseling psychology program at the University of Denver, is speaking in late January 2015 from her winter home in Hawaii. It was there that, 2 years earlier, members of her book group had exclaimed, "You look completely different!" when she first arrived for the season from Colorado. That was because she'd undergone dry needling treatments the previous fall, and her face no longer was tight with pain and tension.

Log in or create a free account to keep reading.


Join APTA to get unlimited access to content.

  1. American Physical Therapy Association Board of Directors. Guidelines: Physical Therapist Scope of Practice (BOD G02-14-18-12). http://www.apta.org/uploadedFiles/APTAorg/About_Us/Policies/Practice/ScopePractice.pdf. Accessed February 9, 2015.
  2. Guide to Physical Therapist Practice 3.0. Alexandria, VA: American Physical Therapy Association; 2014. http://guidetoptpractice.apta.org/. Accessed February 9, 2015.
  3. American Physical Therapy Association. Physical Therapists & the Performance of Dry Needling. http://www.apta.org/StateIssues/DryNeedling/. Published January 2012. Accessed February 9, 2015.
  4. American Physical Therapy Association. Description of Dry Needling in Clinical Practice. http://www.apta.org/StateIssues/DryNeedling/. Published February 2013. Accessed February 9, 2015.
  5. Mejuto-Vasquez MJ, Salom-Moreno J, Ortega-Santiago R, et al. Short-term changes in neck pain, widespread pressure pain sensitivity, and cervical range of motion after the application of trigger point dry needling in patients with acute mechanical neck pain: a randomized clinical trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014:44(4):252-260.
  6. American Physical Therapy Association. "Billing of Dry Needling By Physical Therapists." (Official statement.) 2014.