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Physical Therapy Boulder CO
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Dry Needling (DN)

Dry needling (DN) is a procedure used by physical therapists to manage pain and address movement impairments. Muscles have a resting tone, but when they are in dysfunction, they are too tense (hypertonic), too weak (hypotonic), or shut down (inhibited). Therapists use DN to reset patients’ muscles. DN can relax tense muscles, excite weak muscles, and turn on inactive muscles, nudging them back to a functional resting tone.

When administering DN, trained therapists insert a very thin needle through the patient's skin to stimulate trigger points on either a bioelectrical or biochemical bases. Trigger points are taut bands of skeletal muscle within a larger muscle group. Trigger points can refer pain to distant parts of the body. DN is used in conjunction with manual physical therapy interventions and post needling corrective exercises to restore proper movement and reduce acute or chronic symptoms.

Pace West physical therapists are trained at the highest level and have multiple years of experience delivering and teaching DN techniques. Here are some testimonials from our patients about their DN experience at Pace West:

"I’ve tried everything over the years...Rolfing, Graston, Cupping, medical massage, Muscle Activation Technique and Acupuncture, and NOTHING compares to the muscle tension relief I get with a 20-minute DN session at Pace West"


"It (DN) was a new body experience for me. The therapeutic benefits I got were fast and amazing! I could get DN the day before a race and feel like every muscle in my body was ready to go the next day. I see more PRs (personal records) in my future! "


"At first I was reluctant, but after just one DN treatment I felt the aching, spasming muscle in my back release for the first time since my ski accident 2 years ago!"


Functional Dry Needling (FDN)

Here at Pace West PT we separate ourselves from the rest by combining the latest evolution in DN techniques with scientifically proven functional analysis and corrective exercises. This system has been given the trademark name FDN.

FDN emphasizes the importance of evaluation and treatment of the musculoskeletal system by looking for the root cause of the symptoms as well as helping to determine the best treatment protocol. The physical therapist enhances the outcomes of DN with corrective exercise and specific follow-up care after DN is applied. FDN is a neurophysiological, evidence-based treatment technique that requires effective movement and manual assessment of the neuromuscular system. Our PTs are well trained to utilize dry needling in conjunction with manual physical therapy interventions and post needling corrective exercises to restore proper movement related to painful motion impairments.

More on Dry Needling

DN originated from western neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous system. When using DN, physical therapists do not use acupuncture theories or terminology, and the objectives of DN do not come from traditional Chinese medicine. Instead, DN was born from the trigger point work of Travel and Simons and is considered a more direct physical manipulation of the muscle tissue itself.

Research supports that dry needling:
  • Improves pain control
  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Normalizes biochemical and bioelectricl dysfunction of motor endplates
  • Facilitates an accelerated return to active rehabilitation

Please take the time to review our consent form.  

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Is it safe? TDN is safe, the needles are sterilized and brand new. All practitioners are required to demonstrate proficiency in manual therapy prior to taking the course. TDN practitioners are required to demonstrate clinical competency in this technique before passing the course work.
  2. Is it acupuncture? TDN is not acupuncture; the goal of the treatment is to treat motor banding and trigger points in the body. TDN does not address meridian points or chi in the body. This treatment is not intended to replace acupuncture.
  3. How often can I be treated? We usually recommend that you start with one treatment session a week. Patients who tolerate this treatment sequencing may elect to treat two times a week with at least two days apart.
  4. What should I expect after treatment? Patients may have post treatment soreness and occasional bruising. The post treatment soreness can last from 24 to 48 hours initially and with each subsequent treatment the soreness is generally a shorter duration.
  5. Will my insurance cover the procedure? Trigger Point Dry Needling is not a billable service when performed by a physical therapist. The procedure is considered "experimental and unproven" by Medicare and major medical insurance companies. Exception: Workers Compensation and Motor Vehicle Insurance will usually cover TDN. There is a nominal fee for TDN, which is assessed in addition to your copayment, deductible, or coinsurance. TDN is not billed to your insurance company.

[1] Travell J, Simons D: Myofascial pain and dysfunction of the trigger point manual. The upper extremities. Williams and Williams, Baltimore MD, Chapter 6, 1983. For more information visit:

Physical Therapists & the Performance of Dry Needling Resource Paper (.pdf)

Overview of Dry Needling & Functional Dry Needling® Courses