Dry Needling for Neck & Shoulder Pain

by Onward Physical Therapy | August 11, 2023 |
Dry Needling for Neck & Shoulder Pain

If you are looking for relief from neck and shoulder pain then dry needling should be at the top of your list for techniques that can help. Dry needling for neck and shoulder pain is one of the most effective solutions to reduce symptoms when combined with exercises to improve mobility and strength further. In this article, we’ll share how dry needling may be able to help you reduce your pain levels!

Understanding Dry Needling

Dry needling is a relatively new treatment technique utilizing small needles with no medication inserted into muscles to relieve pain. This differs considerably from traditional acupuncture, which instead focuses on changing energy flow in the body.

At Onward, we utilize dry needling combined with electrical stimulation for a maximized response to the treatment. This technique reduces pain, relieves muscle tension, and can help muscles better activate after treatment. This is great for those needing more mobility and strength as the method will allow us to exercise injured tissues for faster long-term recovery.

Dry Needling for Shoulder Pain

Dry needling for shoulder pain is one of our favorite techniques. In conditions such as rotator cuff tendinopathy, we know that strengthening the rotator cuff is crucial to rehabbing the injury. But when tissues are painful, our body’s natural default is to reduce our ability to contract those tissues as a protective mechanism. Dry needling with electrical stimulation will often result in our clients noticing immediate improvements in their shoulder strength as this downregulation is reduced. Ultimately, this lets us do a better job of strengthening the rotator cuff muscles for faster recovery.

Dry Needling for Neck Pain

In the neck, we also utilize dry needling frequently to reduce muscle tension in stubborn muscles suck as the upper traps. We can reduce muscle tension in the neck by using electrical stim with our needling, but without the intense soreness often experienced with trigger point dry needling. With reduced muscle tension, we can often perform more intense mobilizations to the neck and upper back joints to improve the range of motion after a neck tweak.


Check Out How We Use Dry Needling at Onward Physical Therapy


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Considerations Before Using Dry Needling for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Before using dry needling for neck and shoulder pain, there are a few things to consider.

  • First, individuals with aversions to needles may want to consider alternatives such as myofascial decompression. But for most, the thin needles utilized in this treatment create minimal discomfort.
  • Second, occasional soreness exists after dry needling. We minimize this at Onward by focusing on electrical stimulation dry needling over trigger point needling. Research (and our clients) report less post-needling soreness using this technique. 
  • Finally, you never want dry needling performed by unlicensed and untrained individuals. In-depth anatomy and tissue healing knowledge is critical to performing this treatment safely.
Want to see if dry needling might be helpful for your neck or shoulder pain? Schedule a free phone consult at any of our locations to discuss with a therapist today!