Dry Needling

Overworked or injured muscles can develop knotted areas called trigger points. These trigger points are highly sensitive, can be painful when touched, and are also often the cause of referred pain (pain that affects another part of the body).

Trigger points can be treated with Dry Needling, also called intramuscular stimulation (IMS), functional dry needling (FDN), or myofacial trigger point therapy. In this in-office procedure, Dr Wells inserts tiny acupuncture-type needles into tight muscles to reduce pain, reduce inflammation, increase range of motion, and reduce irritation to the nerves. Dr Wells treats patients who are recovering from motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, repetitive stress injuries, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia.

Who does it help?

Dry needling has proven beneficial in treating many medical conditions, including:

  • Back or neck pain
  • Tennis elbow
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Joint problems
  • Myofascial pain/muscle spasms
  • Pelvic pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Shin splints
  • Frozen shoulder impingement and rotator cuff issues
  • Spinal issues
  • TMJ
  • Tendonitis, sprains, strains
  • Trigger points
  • Whiplash
  • Chronic pain
  • Scar tissue
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Sciatica
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Hip and gluteal pain

Dry needling rarely is a standalone procedure and is often incorporated into physical therapy and exercise strengthening plans. Dr Wells is happy to coordinate her care with your PT or physician.

How does it work?

Improvements in pain, mobility, or both are expected with dry needling of a trigger point. Studies have shown that dry needling:

  • Increases blood flow – This helps to facilitate healing and decrease inflammation.
  • Decreases muscle tension – After a local twitch response, normal muscle cell length is restored, allowing for normalized contraction of the muscle.
  • Decreases spasming – In a trigger point there is abnormal electrical activity occurring at the neuromuscular junction. Eliciting a twitch response quiets this heightened electrical activity.
  • Decreases inflammatory and pain signals – Active trigger points have high acidity, inflammatory markers, and Substance P. Substance P is a neurotransmitter that overstimulates your pain receptors. Studies have shown significant decrease in inflammatory markers, acidity levels, and Substance P immediately and 5 days after treatment with dry needling.
  • Central nervous system changes – Elimination of a trigger point in one area of the body can also decrease trigger points in other areas.

What to expect

When a needle is inserted into a chronically tightened muscle you may feel an aching or cramping sensation which usually quickly subsides over several seconds. The muscle will continue to relax and lengthen over the next few hours or days. Some patients feel immediate relief, less pain, better movement and function. Some patients may experience some achiness for 1-2 days following treatment.

The average number of visits needed for long-lasting improvement varies from 4-12 visits, initially spaced 1-2 weeks apart. The procedure takes approximately 20-30 minutes to perform.

Is it acupuncture?

Dry Needling is not Acupuncture or Oriental Medicine. The two philosophies are quite different. Dry Needling does not alter the flow of Qi along the traditional meridian lines, nor does Dr Wells use tongue or pulse diagnosis to assess for needle placement. Dry Needling assessment is based on anatomical evaluation of the bones, joints, connective tissue, and muscle to guide where the needle is placed. The goal of Dry Needling is to restore function, to restore range of motion, and to reduce pain and inflammation.


Dr Wells participates in the following insurance networks:

  • Regence Blue Shield of Washington
  • BridgeSpan Health
  • Premera Blue Cross of Washington
  • LifeWise Healthplan of Washington
  • First Choice Health Network

We are happy to courtesy bill out of network insurance plans. Patients who are seeing Dr Wells out of network will be asked to pay in full at the time of service for their first visit.