Vital Force Physio


Dry Needling

March 8, 2023

Specific Approaches for Desired Outcomes

Did you know there are several different approaches and techniques your physical therapist can use to achieve a desired effect with the use of dry needling?

(For those unfamiliar with the intervention of dry needling, see our blog: What is Dry Needling?).

Whether you are dealing with an acute strain, a stiff/irritated muscle, impaired muscle activation or an inflammatory process, dry needling can be an effective adjunct to your physical therapy plan of care. Techniques such as, pistoning, the use of low frequency electrical stimulation and the use of high frequency electrical stimulation with dry needling will be discussed in this article.

Electrical Stimulation

Dry needling with the use of low frequency electrical stimulation (e-stim) can be used to help with recovery and remove chronic swelling from a certain area of the body. During the application of e-stim individuals can feel a slow twitching sensation in the muscles where the needles are inserted. The slow twitching stimulates blood flow to this specific part of the body and aids in tissue repair and relaxation.

Dry needling with the use of high frequency electrical stimulation can be used to help with a muscle that is not contracting properly or activate muscles prior to activity. Higher frequency stimulation equates to higher rates of twitches, but with less intensity.


Dry needling with the use of a piston technique can help stiff and irritated muscles relax by inducing a “twitch response.” This twitch response can stimulate the body’s nervous system and circulatory system. These systems direct blood flow with factors that facilitate tissue healing and muscle relaxation.

At Vital Force Physio we use a combination of techniques during the application of dry needling. Our physical therapists are specifically trained to individualize each intervention to the athlete or active human being treated.

If you are dealing with pain that is keeping you from being active or performing activities in life you enjoy, send us an email at, or DM us with questions on instagram at vitalforce_physio!

Dr. Tom Long, PT, DPT, OCS, OMT-C, CF-L1

Please consult your Physical Therapist, Physician or Healthcare Provider before starting any new exercise program.


Prentice , W. E. (2021). Basic Principles of Electricity and Electrical Stimulating Currents. In Therapeutic Modalities in Rehabilitation, Sixth Edition. McGraw Hill.

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