Skip to Content
chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up chevron-right chevron-left arrow-back star phone quote checkbox-checked search wrench info shield play connection mobile coin-dollar spoon-knife ticket pushpin location gift fire feed bubbles home heart calendar price-tag credit-card clock envelop facebook instagram twitter youtube pinterest yelp google reddit linkedin envelope bbb pinterest homeadvisor angies

Over the past few years, we’ve received numerous requests from patients about dry needling treatment here at Elite. We’re very excited to announce that we now have a Physical Therapist certified to perform dry needling treatment at both our Stoughton and Foxboro Physical Therapy clinics so we’re now able to offer this service as an adjunct therapeutic intervention at both clinics! If you’re not familiar with dry needling, check out today’s blog post to learn more about this treatment and how you may benefit from it!

What is dry needling used for?

Dry needling can be used to treat a variety of orthopedic conditions, including but not limited to muscle strains, ligament sprains, joint pain, range of motion impairments, headaches, low back and neck pain and for recovery after sporting competitions or practices. Some proponents of dry needling use it to release “trigger points” in muscles. However, with an appropriately trained specialist and the right type of application, it can be utilized in a variety of people with and without pain related to trigger points. Dry needling uses fine filament needles inserted deep into muscles, joints, ligaments, fascia and other connective tissue to decrease pain, improve range of motion and expedite the healing process .

What’s the difference between dry needling and acupuncture? 

Acupuncture and dry needling are derived from different schools of thought which makes the application of the needle and overall goal of treatment much different. Acupuncture is over 2000 years old and originated in Eastern medicine. It’s current widely used to treat various ailments and pain such as: chemotherapy and postoperative nausea, dental pain, headaches, labor pain, respiratory disorders, fibromyalgia, GI disorders, anxiety, depression, and neurological disease. Acupuncturists focus on inserting the needles into meridians within the body to improve or clear up energy flow throughout different meridian lines.

In contrast, dry needling uses the same needles with a different application process and is a component of Western medicine. The needles are usually inserted deeper into the muscle or connective tissue, with the goal of going through the entire tissue down to the osseous membrane to create small lesions within multiple layers of connective and soft tissue.

How does dry needling work?

Dry needling works by using the needles to create micro-lesions within a pathological tissue to stimulate a local inflammatory response, replace innate tissues, and stimulate nerve fibers responsible for our sensation. By stimulating a local inflammatory response, the body increases vasodilators to bring tissue healing proteins in the blood to a pathologic tissue. This decreases chronic inflammation as a result of vasoconstriction and tissue hypoxia. Not only do we get a local tissue response, but we also get a systemic response the longer we keep the needles in the body by interrupting the pain pathways leading to the spinal cord and brain. Lastly, because of the increased blood flow and inflammatory response that happens after a needle is inserted, we get an increase in satellite cells that differentiate themselves to replace the micro- lesions we created in the body part to promote new, healthy tissue growth.

What are the contraindications to dry needling? 

  • Metal allergy
  • Skin lesions/rash/spray tan/makeup
  • Blood and systemic diseases
  • Needle phobia
  • Cancer
  • Lymphedema
  • Low back: spina bifida, moderate scoliosis, laminectomy/laminotomy
  • People with known immunocompromised systems
  • Implants
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Pregnancy

What are the precautions associated with dry needling?

  • Taking blood thinners
  • Cancer (must be discussed and recommended by MD)
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Under recovered or over trained athletes
  • Hyperalgesia or allodynia

Elite is now offering dry needling as an adjunct therapy at both of our physical therapy clinics in Stoughton and Foxboro. If you would like to learn more or schedule an appointment, please contact us at 781-436-0391 in Stoughton ( or  774-332-1723 in Foxboro (



  1. Dry needling vs Acupuncture: The ongoing debate: Zhou 2015
  2. Pain management secrets, Basbaum et al 2009
  3. Dry needling for Manual Therapists, Gyer, 2016
  4. Enhanced satellite cell activity in aging skeletal muscle after manual acupuncture induced injury Sobrian et al 2014
  5. Physiological Effects of Dry Needling, Cagnie, 2016
  6. Is dry needling applied by physical therapists effective for pain in musculoskeletal conditions? A systematic review and meta analysis, Sanchez – Infante et al 2021