What Happens When Dry Needling Hits a Nerve?

What happens when dry needling hits a nerve? When a needle enters a muscle, it may cause a twitch response. That’s a good thing and usually indicates that the treatment is working.

However, it can be dangerous if the needle hits a nerve directly. This can cause neuropraxia, a mild form of nerve damage that’s typically temporary.

What Happens When Dry Needling Hits a Nerve?


When a needle hits a nerve, it causes a muscle to twitch. This is a good sign that the treatment is working, as it helps to release tension in the muscles. This in turn will ease pain and discomfort, as well as helping to improve mobility.

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The pricking sensation created by the needle also fires off nerve fibers and stimulates your body to release its natural painkillers, called endorphins. These are the chemicals that reduce the inflammation in your body, which in turn will help to ease the pain and stiffness that comes with overuse.

Once the provider locates a trigger point, they will insert the needle through the skin directly into it. The needle might be moved around a little to try to get a local twitch response from the muscle, which is a good sign that the treatment is effective.

Taut muscles can cause a pinched nerve, which is often the root cause of many musculoskeletal problems. This can include jaw and mouth conditions, such as temporomandibular disorder (TMD), and repetitive motion disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Dry needling has been shown to improve these issues by decreasing local and referred pain, improving range of motion, and altering the chemical environment within trigger points. It also accelerates the repair process of injured tendons, which is helpful for chronic tendinitis sufferers.


Dry needling can also be used to treat problems caused by muscle tightness, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and temporomandibular joint disorders (tinnitus, earache, or jaw pain). When a nerve is irritated by the tight muscles around it, it triggers protective spasms in other muscles that are connected to it. These muscles can become stiff and shortened, resulting in pain and limited mobility. Functional Dry Needling treats these “pain referral” muscles to help restore the muscles’ flexibility and reduce pain.

The therapist may move the needle around to try to find and hit a muscle trigger point (TP). You might feel a small prick or a quick electric shock as the needle goes in, but after the needle hits the TP, you will often feel a local twitch response. This is a good sign that the treatment is working.

After the treatment, you might have some soreness for a few hours or days. This is normal, similar to what you might feel after a manual therapy session. It is important to keep moving and stretching after a dry needling session, even if you have some soreness. You can use an ice pack on the area to decrease inflammation.

You should also avoid rubbing the needle site as it can cause more irritation. It is also important to make sure your practitioner uses sterile needles and disposes of them after each use. Using non-sterile needles increases your risk of getting a bloodborne illness or infection.


Dry needling is a therapy treatment performed by physical therapists and often covered by insurance. It uses super thin needles that are inserted through the skin into myofascial trigger points, which can be painful and stiff. The treatment causes a pain response in the tissues that helps to relax the muscle, which decreases or eliminates the pain.

The process is generally quick, with only a few sessions required to see significant benefits. But everyone responds differently and it may take a little longer to feel the effects of the treatment. It can also help to get regular treatments if you’re experiencing chronic pain and stiffness.

If you are allergic to metal or have a blood-clotting condition, dry needling might not be for you. If the needle hits a nerve directly, it can cause numbness and tingling in that area that lasts for hours, days or even weeks. This can be very frustrating and is why it is important to have a trained provider perform the procedure.

The treatment has shown promise for a variety of conditions, including neck and back pain, sciatica, jaw problems (temporomandibular joint), headaches, sports injuries and postherpetic neuralgia (pain that occurs after shingles). It can be used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with other therapies to help reduce your symptoms and improve your mobility. For more information, contact an Athletico clinic near you to schedule a free assessment.


Dry needling uses solid filiform needles that don’t inject anything (hence the name “dry” needle) and are inserted into muscle knots. The needles cause a micro trauma to the muscle tissue and induce a twitch response in the muscle to relieve pain and release tight muscles. It’s a more effective and less painful treatment than massage or other forms of manual therapy, which can sometimes injure healthy muscle tissue as well.

When a needle hits a nerve, it can feel like an intense sensation that shoots down the leg. While it can hurt, this is a good sign that the needle is doing its job. If the sensation doesn’t go away, let your provider know right away so they can adjust the pressure of the needle.

what happens when dry needling hits a nerve

It’s important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of dry needling with your physiotherapist before having the procedure done. Ideally, you should be able to fully understand the treatment and consent to it. If you are unable to give informed consent due to communication, cognitive, or age-related factors, the physiotherapist should not treat you with dry needling.

One risk associated with dry needling is that the needle could penetrate a lung tissue, which is known as a pneumothorax. This is extremely rare, however, and can occur in about one out of a million treatments. Symptoms of a pneumothorax include shortness of breath and chest pain.