Acupuncture and Dry Needling

Acupuncture and Dry Needling

Acupuncture and Dry Needling are two different types of treatment that could be offered to you. Starting with Acupuncture, the following text will explain the difference between them.


Acupuncture is one of the many skills used within physiotherapy for the management of pain and inflammation and as a means of stimulating the body’s own healing chemicals to aid recovery and enhance rehabilitation.
Acupuncture within physiotherapy is implemented in accordance with clinical and research evidence. 

The body has an innate ability to self-repair and the use of Acupuncture enhances these natural self-repair mechanisms to enhance recovery and improve repair timeframes, supporting the body back to optimal health. Acupuncture also works in conjunction with other physiotherapy modalities, such as exercise and conditioning. 

There is substantial evidence that Acupuncture can significantly reduce pain in many musculoskeletal conditions- the list includes (but is not limited to) Headaches and migraines, neck pain, low back pain, TMJ pain, knee shoulder and ankle pain.  

Western medical acupuncture has been derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM].  In Traditional Chinese Acupuncture it is believed that the needles stimulate the flow of energy, known as Qi (chee) which circulates in pathways (meridians) within the body.

Through anatomical dissection we have discovered that the tissue called ‘fascia’ lie in trains that we can body map to match very closely with the ancient Chinese energy channels (meridians). Fascial tissue is connective tissue that attaches, wraps, and/or separates the deep structures of the body.  In the West, there is belief that the insertion of the Acupuncture needle may stimulate the nerve supply of the fascial tissue which may be responsible for reducing pain.

Acupuncture is also proven to stimulate our Parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for reducing stress, enhancing sleep, reducing blood pressure and decreasing heart rate. Therefore most people tend to find improved wellbeing as a result of acupuncture.

The Chartered Physiotherapists who practice Acupuncture at Revive Physiotherapy and wellbeing are fully qualified Acupuncturists.

What to expect in an Acupuncture session

Before any Acupuncture treatment, your Physio will go over your medical history and perform a physical exam. They need to determine if Acupuncture is right for you.

The most effective way of administering acupuncture is to provide a course of 4 sessions over a 2 to 3 weeks to start. These sessions can last between 30 and 45 minutes.  During an acupuncture session you will be sitting or lying and the needles inserted into specific acupuncture points.  Your Acupuncturist is trained to know exactly where to put them and what size of needle to use and the depth to which it is placed.  You should expect to feel an ache, or a dullness around the needle site. Some people report other sensations, sometimes reporting a ‘weird’ or a feeling they can’t describe. Occasionally you may feel a sharp painful sensation if this is the case please inform the Physio straight away and they will adjust the needle.

What to expect after Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a safe practice, the incidence of infection or adverse events is incredibly low.  However, some side effects include small spotting of blood, bruising.  In about 3% of people a temporary increase/flare in symptoms can occur (normally lasting 3 days), as the course of acupuncture is followed this reaction settles and the patient starts to feel benefit from the treatment.

After the treatment you may feel sleepy, chilled or dozy, this takes anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours to wear off. Some people can feel elated or euphoric after a session.  We recommend you hydrate and eat a snack straight after the acupuncture.  

Who shouldn’t get Acupuncture treatments?

Most patients may not be suitable to receive Acupuncture.  Your Acupuncturist will screen your medical history and advise if acupuncture is something you should receive.

We need the patient to consent to the treatment so we absolutely cannot practice this on someone that is confused or person too young to make an informed decision.  

Please inform your Physio if you have:

Heart valve disease, Diabetes, you are on blood thinning medication or you have a clotting disorder, you have an active infection, if you have cancer, if you suffer epilepsy/seizures, you have loss/altered skin sensation, you have an allergy to metals or are needle phobic.

If you do suffer from any of the conditions above, you may still be able to receive Acupuncture but we may have to avoid certain acupuncture points or areas in your body.  

Dry Needling/Trigger Point Acupuncture

Dry needling can also be known as trigger point dry needling and intramuscular stimulation.

It is a technique that Acupuncturist Physiotherapists use to treat musculoskeletal pain and movement issues. It is used as part of a larger pain management plan that could include exercise, stretching, massage and other techniques. Instead of needling acupuncture points your Physio insert the needle into underlying myofascial trigger points.

Trigger points are tight, tender areas that develop in your muscles. These trigger points are highly sensitive and can be painful when touched. Sometimes, a trigger point may be near the location of your pain and they’re also often the cause of referred pain that affects another part of your body.  When dry needling is applied to your muscles and tissues, it can decrease tightness, increase blood flow and reduce local and referred pain.

What to expect in a Dry Needling session

Before any dry needling treatment, your Physio will go over your medical history and perform a physical exam. They need to determine if dry needling is right for you.

During your treatment your Physiotherapist needs to locates a trigger point, you may experience some pain while your provider is locating the trigger point.

Once the Physio has located this they’ll insert a needle through your skin directly into it. They might move the needle around a little to try to get what’s called a local twitch response — a quick spasm of your muscle. This reaction can be a good sign that your muscle is reacting. It is normal to feel discomfort when the needle is in the trigger point and the twitch response can feel a bit odd. Afterward, you may feel tightness or soreness near the insertion site, but it’s important to keep moving and stretching. The post treatment ache or soreness may last for a few hours after.

Some people feel improvement in their pain and mobility almost immediately after a dry needling session. For others, it takes more than one session.

Who shouldn’t get dry needling Treatments?

There are certain groups of people who shouldn’t receive dry needling. Providers don’t recommend the procedure for children under the age of 12 because it can be painful. You and your child will both need to provide consent, and you should consider other less invasive options first.

Like acupuncture there are certain patients who may have medical conditions which prevent them from receiving dry needling.  Before any dry needling treatment, your Physio will go over your medical history and perform a physical exam. They need to determine if dry needling is right for you.

After your treatment

After your treatment, make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You may experience increased muscle soreness after the treatment but it’s important to keep moving. This is normal and may last for 24 to 36 hours. You could see some bruising near the treated area. This bruising may last for up to a week.


The cost of Acupuncture and Dry needling can vary depending on the duration of your treatment- the sessions will range from £40 to £55.  

You will require an initial assessment on your first visit this will last 45 minutes and is charged at £60.