Dry needling therapy procedure on hand
Functional Dry Needling and Physical Therapy2023-09-22T13:25:41-05:00

Functional Dry Needling and Physical Therapy: Your Path to Pain Relief and Mobility

Are you tired of persistent muscle pain, limited mobility, or sports injuries holding you back from reaching your goals and enjoying life? Maybe you’ve tried a variety of interventions only to end up frustrated by the results. If this sounds like you, it’s time explore the groundbreaking combination of functional dry needling and physical therapy.

This researched-backed approach can help you regain control of your body and lead a pain-free life. Keep reading to delve into the benefits of functional dry needling treatment, the difference between it and acupuncture, and how combining this kind of treatment with physical therapy can transform your quality of life.

Understanding the Treatment

If you suffer from tight, tense, or knotted muscles, then dry needling could be a good option for you. This type of treatment is designed to target these irritated muscles, known as trigger points, to give you greater range of motion, pain relief and more.

Functional dry needling is a therapeutic technique performed by skilled physical therapist that involves the insertion of thin, stainless-steel needles into specific muscle trigger points. These needles are solid and no fluid is injected into the body, hence the term “dry”. The needles work to stimulate your irritated muscles and improve your muscle function to alleviate pain and promote overall healing.

Benefits of Functional Dry Needling

Functional dry needling is modern, research-supported treatment drawing on precise knowledge of anatomy and physiology to target knotted or hard muscles. For some, treatment with needles can seem like an intimidating process. But rest assured that this treatment is performed by highly trained professionals ready to help you enjoy improved quality of life including:

  1. Pain Reduction: A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (2017) [1] found that functional dry needling is effective in reducing muscle pain and improving function in various musculoskeletal conditions.
  2. Muscle Relaxation: Treatments targets trigger points, which are knots within muscles that cause pain and tension. By releasing these knots, it helps muscles relax without medication, leading to improved flexibility and range of motion.
  3. Faster Healing: Research in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2019) [2] suggests that functional dry needling can accelerate the healing process! Releasing knotted muscles stimulates blood flow and the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
  4. Complements Physical Therapy: Treatment is often integrated into physical therapy programs. The two treatments work symbiotically, enhancing the effectiveness of rehabilitation for sports injuries, back pain, and neck pain.

Understanding Acupuncture vs. Functional Dry Needling

Functional dry needling and acupuncture both involve applying thin, sterile needles to the body to relieve ailments. But this is where the similarities end, as the two treatments differ in origin and focus. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that focuses on specific points along energy pathways called meridians. Unlike functional dry needling that targets muscles, acupuncture aims to balance the body’s energy flow—or Qi—and is rooted in ancient Eastern philosophy.

Key Differences

  1. Purpose: Functional dry needling primarily targets trigger points to alleviate musculoskeletal pain and improve muscle function. Acupuncture aims to balance the body’s energy flow for overall health and wellness.
  2. Philosophy: Functional dry needling is based on western medicine that prioritizes modern anatomical and neurophysiological principles. In contrast, acupuncture is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine’s holistic approach.
  3. Needle Depth: Functional dry needling is inserted deeper into the muscle tissue, while acupuncture often uses shallower needle insertions along meridians.
  4. Training: Physical therapists undergo rigorous training in human anatomy to perform functional dry needling. Acupuncturists also undergo specific training to master acupuncture techniques.

Book Treatment in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, or Radford

If you’re suffering from musculoskeletal issues in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, or Radford, then the professionals at Total Motion Physical Therapy can help. We offer a science-based, evidence-backed approach to overcome pain and regain control of your body through our expert functional dry needling and physical therapy services.

Contact us today to discover how this dynamic combination can help you unlock your body’s true potential.


  1. Dommerholt, J., & Fernández-de-las-Peñas, C. (2017). Trigger point dry needling. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 47(3), 133-134.
  2. Gattie, E., Cleland, J. A., & Snodgrass, S. (2017). Dry needling for patients with neck pain: protocol of a randomised controlled trial. Journal of Physiotherapy, 63(2), 124.

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At Total Motion Physical Therapy our specialized doctors are trained to perform various orthopedic manual therapy techniques.  Many studies have shown that by using manual therapy and exercise, patients get better faster with longer results. It’s for this reason that we follow-up our manual work with specific medical exercises that reinforce our manual techniques to further treat the source of the pain and not just the symptom.

We constantly reassess our patients throughout the course of their care to ensure that their treatment is specific to their needs, further providing the value of our treatment. Our staff has embraced the concept of being “life-long learners” and we are always acquiring and perfecting various physical therapy services interventions to better care for our patients.