• Body Align Physio

What is Electrotherapeutic Dry Needling?

Last week the team had an in-service with Canadian (now residing in Australia) Physio Joelle about the effects of adding electricity to the needles during a treatment session. 


In general, electrotherapeutic dry needling  involves stimulation of the peripheral nervous system with a fine solid needle and electricity for the purposes of modulating the activity of the nervous system.

Through this we can then influence muscle activity, blood flow and pain.


Adding electricity to the needle takes the effects of dry needling on the nervous system to a whole other level, improving communication from the body to the brain (and vice versa). Pain, poor movement patterns and all past and current injuries create road blocks in the communication between the brain and body. This communication happens through nerves. Using electricity with the needle allows for direct stimulation to clear those road blocks, improving muscle activation, circulation and reducing pain - helping you get back to what you love doing.


Pic courtesy of '3D Essential Anatomy App.'



You as the patient will feel very little as the needle goes in, a dull ache or muscle twitch, followed by gentle tapping when the electricity is connected. You will stay “hooked up” for at least 10 minutes. Something to note, the area of pain is very rarely the true source of the pain, so the needles might be positioned somewhere else, having you wonder why we have placed the needle there. 


An example to explain this: You’ve had knee pain for several months from a “tweak” while you were golfing. You’ve done all the necessary rehab but it still hurts when you to twist or when you swing the club. There is likely still an irritation of the saphenous nerve, residual from the original injury. So we would target the nerve along its path from the inside of the knee, thigh and into the back.


The follow up:

Everyone responds differently but in general, following the session, you may feel like you’ve had a little workout, you might feel tired or even hungry. Make sure you hydrate after and have had something light to eat at least 1 hr prior to your treatment to minimize fatigue after the session.


It often requires several sessions to experience a lasting effect but you will definitely feel something has been done after the first treatment! 




In a previous blog we discuss what dry needling is all about https://www.bodyalignphysio.com.au/post/what-is-dry-needling-and-how-it-can-help-you


For the specific details of what electrotherapeutic dry needling it is all about, check out this article from Joelle’s instructor and mentor http://mcmasteracupuncture.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/1-Acupuncture-Apr-2011-2.pdf


Hopefully this paints a little picture of what electrotherapeutic dry needling is all about. If you have any questions, ask us next time you’re in!


- Physio Joelle