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Dry Needling the Neck for Headaches


Neck pain and headaches are no walk in the park. They can come up out of nowhere and turn any normal day into sheer misery. Dry needling is tool that provides amazing benefits for those dealing with neck pain and headaches by relieving tight muscles, decreasing inflammation, and stimulating healing. In our previous article on dry needling, we discussed the history of dry needling and why it works. For this article, we show you a video of a real patient receiving dry needling for neck pain and headaches.


How is this done?

To start, Dr. Detweiler will take an acupuncture needle and grab a portion of the trap muscle. As we know, many people hold a lot of tension in their traps, so the trap is a very important place to go into with the needle to make sure it is releasing. Then, the needle will be inserted straight through into the trap to try to get a reaction from the tissue. The muscle will often twitch in response to the needle being inserted, indicating that there is a tight or tender spot. Seeing the muscles twitch upon insertion is actually a good thing; that means we're getting in and stimulating the muscle, making it contract and actually relax.

From there, Dr. Detweiler will leave the needles in for about ten to fifteen minutes. Throughout that time, he will twist the needles a little bit, allowing the tissue to grab around the needle and provide more stimulus and healing to occur. The area with the inserted needles might start to pool up with redness, which is just fine. That indicates that blood is flowing to provide recovery and relief to the tissues. The needles are left in until the tissue decides it is time for them to come out. This happens when the tissue relaxes and releases itself from the needle. Then, the needle can be pulled straight out, and the patient is good to go.



Pistoning Technique

You may notice during this video, that the needle is being moved in and out of the tissue repeatedly. This is called pistoning. Pistoning is used to achieve a greater amount of stimulus to a targeted region, primarily bigger muscle groups, like the traps, quads, and hamstrings. With pistoning, the goal is to increase blood flow and generate a lot of stimulus into the tissues. In this patient’s case, pistoning does a great job loosening up tight traps that can be attributing to headaches. The traps are also a go-to indicator for stress and shoulder issues, so it is important that we are addressing this large muscle with dry needling.


Dry needling is a fantastic option for those experiencing muscle and joint pain, and has helped hundreds of patients in our office with their neck pain and headaches. As such, we highly recommend it as a safe, comfortable, and effective way to improve your overall health and wellness.

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Columbus, OH 43212

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