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Does Dry Needling Help Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a condition related to the musculoskeletal system. The patient suffering from fibromyalgia experiences pain and stiffness of muscles and the movement including spinal movements are severely restricted. The pain of fibromyalgia is thought to be originated from deep into the muscular tissue. Various treatment options are available for fibromyalgia patients and a combination of treatment techniques are generally used to provide optimum relief to the patients. Dry needling therapy is one such option available to physicians for treating fibromyalgia.

Does Dry Needling Help Fibromyalgia?

Dry needling is the technique used in managing muscular pain. The technique is generally used by the physical therapist. This technique is also helpful in improving muscular movement. The term dry needling is sometimes used synonymously with intramuscular manual therapy or trigger point dry needling. Dry needling is not to be confused with acupuncture as both the treatment represents the different system of medicines. While dry needing is from the Western system of medicine, acupuncture is said to be originated from China is this the part of the Chinese system of medicine. Also, dry needling is performed by expert physical therapists while acupuncture is done by acupuncturists. A taut band of skeletal muscles is present on the large muscle group. Thus, the taut band is known as a trigger point. The activation of the trigger point leads to the development of pain. It is interesting to note that by touching the trigger point at one location may cause pain in another location. Such type of pain is known as referred pain. Dry needling acts on these trigger points. Through the day needling technique, the physiotherapists inactivate the trigger points leading to alleviating pain and improved muscle flexibility. Various researches have concluded that dry needing helps in improving muscle tension, revitalized dysfunction of motor end plates and also helps in reducing pain1.

Use Of Dry Needling In Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia pain is the condition that dominantly includes the trigger points. Activation of these trigger points leads to muscle tension, muscle spasm, pain, and limited movement. The patient feels fatigued ad quality of life is reduced. Dry needling is an important and valuable treatment option available for doctors who are expert in treating fibromyalgia. However, it is to be noted that in most of the cases, dry needling is not the complete treatment by itself rather it is just a part of the comprehensive treatment customer for the patient with fibromyalgia. Common locations of these trigger points are in arm and neck2. Various mechanisms are involved in the treatment of fibromyalgia through needle therapy. In its simplest form, during this procedure, a very small and thin needle is inserted in the muscles, and the tight muscle bands which are associated with the trigger points are released leading to alleviation of pain. Traditionally, the needle was slowly moved in-and-out of the muscle to deactivate the trigger point. However, the slow process increases the risk of surrounding tissue damage due to side movement of the needle. To overcome this side effect, the method was modified and the process of inserting and pulling the needle was slightly fast3.

In some cases, during needle therapy, a small amount of anesthetic is also inserted along with the needle. This will help in controlling the pain more effectively by desensitizing the whole area. The therapy was further modified and some researchers have used electrical stimulation along with the needling therapy. Dy needling therapy is highly effective in treating pain and improving spinal mobility4. Botulinum toxin has also been administered with needling by some authors in myofascial pain syndrome; however, the effect of such modification on fibromyalgia is not conclusive.


Dry needling technique is used for the management of pain and improvement of movement in patients with fibromyalgia. The technique includes insertion of a needle in the muscles and deactivating the trigger point which is responsible for the radiating pain. Dry needling is an effective therapy in managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia.


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Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 22, 2019

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