Is dry needling within the scope of practice of a physical therapist?
Statement from Federation of State Boards
American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapist Dry Needling Statement
American Physical Therapy Association Supports Dry Needling
Commentary on Dry Needling & Scope of Practice
Following injuries or other degenerative processes, many patients suffer from muscular tightness and spasm. This often leads to compression and irritation of the nerves exiting the spine. When these nerves are irritated, they cause a protective spasm of all the muscles to which they are connected. This natural response from the body attempting to protect itself frequently results in referral pain. This referral pain can lead to secondary dysfunction such as carpal tunnel, tendonitis, osteoarthritis, decreased mobility, chronic pain, and a range of other disorders. This scenario can be difficult to treat because the true sourrce of the problem is “hidden” and undiagnosed. For these patients, standard treatments are often ineffective resulting in continued limitations and chronic pain.
Dry needling (FDN) is a highly effective treatment, unequaled in identifying and eliminating these referring or “hidden” sources of neuromuscular disorder. The treatment involves identifying the source of the pain and advancing a small filament needle into the related muscles, eliciting a small twitch response and then relaxing of the muscle! The identification and stimulation of these trigger points can “reboot” the muscle to alleviate both the original problem area as well as the secondary pain. Many patients experience dramatic pain relief and improved function in just a few treatments, often with lasting relief.