Dry needling

Dry needling may be the solution for muscle aches, stiff neck, headache or migraines. It is compensated by all health insurers.

By inserting small needles into trigger points (muscle ‘knots’) the muscle in that area contracts. This results in a short cramping reflex after which the muscle relaxes and allows more ease of movement.

How do trigger points develop?

  • Stress.
  • Instability, for example during pregnancy.
  • A wrong movement or over stretching.
  • As result of an accident/ sport injury.
  • After a long period of incorrect posture and/or RSI/CANS.
  • After a long period without movement, such as a brace, plaster or sling.
  • Depression.

Trigger points can manifest themselves

  • Pain/ stiffness in a muscle and also pain ‘at a distance’.
  • Restricted movement in related joints.
  • Reduced strength in the affected muscle(s).
  • Pain avoidance behaviour, you start to move differently.
  • Tingling sensation (pins and needles) in arms and legs.
  • Headaches and/or dizziness.

Dry needling is compensated by all health insurers.


Almost eighty percent of headache complaints are caused by tension headaches. In the case of tension headaches, the pain often originates in the neck muscles or at the back of the head and travels to the front so that it eventually encompasses the neck, scalp and head. Tension headaches are often described as feeling as if a tight band is wrapped around the head.

The complaints are often caused by spending a large amount of time in the same position (for example behind a computer) or by stress. Sometimes, however, there is no apparent cause. Tension headaches are painful and annoying. A combination of a change in lifestyle, relaxation techniques and traditional and additional therapies can help to lessen tension headaches.

Indications and symptoms of tension headaches can be a dull ache, painful muscles in the neck, shoulders and jaw, difficulty eating and/or sleeping. Keeping a headache diary can help to identify the source of the headaches. Ask our physiotherapists for details in how to keep such a diary.

Neck complaints with radiating pain

Neck complaints often result in pain radiating to our schoulders, arms and/or head. This is also called ‘referred pain’. When so called trigger points (micro cramps that cause a tight band in the muscle) develop in the various neck muscles, they can cause radiating pain. This can result in, for example, arm complaints and/or tension headaches. Dry needling therapy is an effective way to tackle these trigger points.

Acute and chronic neck complaints

Acute neck complaints are complaints that last less than 6 weeks. When the complaints continue for longer than 6 weeks we refer to them as chronic neck complaints. In the case of chronic neck pain, trigger point therapy often has positive results.

Dry needling and neck pain

During the examination and treatment, the physiotherapist looks at signals from the trigger points and treats these as such. The intervention results in a better blood flow through the muscle. This can result in relaxation in the muscle. Dry needling therapy can help the trigger points to disappear and allow the muscle to slowly recover. The pain disappears and the muscle and joint function increase.

Migraine & dry needling

Migraines cause heavy and intense headaches and is paticularly seen in women aged between 25 and 55 years. By a migraine attack one usually feels a recurrent throbbing headache mostly affecting one side of the head. Accompaning complaints can be: nausea, sensitivity to light and/or noise and aura’s. It is impossible to function normally during a migraine attack.

There are various theory’s as to the causes of migraines. Research has shown that the neurovascular system (combination of nerves, arteries, vains and brain) can play a role. Migraine patients also appear to be sensitive to triggers which can provoke a migraine attack. This sensitivity can also be genetically influenced. Examples of these triggers are: hormonal changes, stress, unhealthy lifestyle or certain foods.

The treatment of migraines focuses mainly on fighting the symptoms or the prevention of a migraine attack. This could mean ensuring that you take medication on time as soon as you notice the signs of an attack. Other possibilities are: exercises to relax, finding out what triggers the attacks and Dry needling therapy.

The neck muscles play an important role in the presence of headaches. People suffering from migraines often experience a radiating pain that according to some is similar to the radiating pain that trigger points can cause.

The neck muscles found high in the neck are often the cause of migraines. Many people strain these muscles incorrectly, especially when they hang in their neck. This is often seen in people who spend a lot of time behind the computer. The muscles can become overburdened. This can result in the development of trigger points within the muscle which can lead to migraines.


Dry needling therapy is based on Western anatomical and neurophysiological principles. Ninety percent of the trigger points are similar to acupuncture. The therapy is developed in Canada and has been a part of physiotherapy there and in the United States for quite a while. The therapy has also been introduced to other European coutries, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

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