What Are Dry Needling Side Effects?

Dry needling is a therapeutic pain relief option but can intimidate people, and really what are dry needling side effects, are there any? During treatment, a physical therapist carefully inserts very fine needles into your muscles in specific areas known as trigger points. Pain relief occurs as the result of the needle “releasing” the trigger point. We are proud to offer dry needling in Denver as one of our many treatment options.

Dry needling is supported by scientific research and modern Western medicine. Many patients have come to love this treatment as it provides relief without the risks and side effects commonly associated with prescription pain medication and surgery. Dry needling is very safe when performed by a highly trained physical therapist, however, like any treatment, it does come with a risk for a few minor side effects. While most patients do not experience any problems, here is a closer look at the potential dry needling side effects.

List Of Dry Needling Side Effectsdry needling side effects

Many patients do not experience any side effects following a dry needling session. When side effects do occur, they are most often mild. Dry needling side effects include:

Temporary Increase In Pain.

This usually occurs with 24 to 48 hours following treatment and may resolve on its own or with gentle activity or stretching of the area or light massage.

Bruising or Bleeding

Bruising or bleeding can occur at the insertion site. Bleeding or bruising at the insertion point is rare and only affects about 10% of patients. If you are on blood thinners or have blood vessel problems, you may be more likely to experience this side effect.


Fainting is another uncommon risk that is most likely to affect healthy, athletic men, older or weaker individuals, middle-aged women with blood pressure under 120/70 and people who are dehydrated, hungry or eat immediately before their appointment.

Fatigue And Tiredness

Some people can experience general feelings of fatigue or weakness.

Skin Reactions

Small red spots may develop on your skin as a histamine reaction to the needles. These spots usually go away on their own within a few minutes or a few hours.


Pneumothorax, or a collapsed lung, is an extremely rare side effect that can generally be avoided by only seeking dry needling services from people with the proper training and certification, such as the physical therapists at Denver Physical Medicine & Rehab.

Dry Needling Side Effects in Denver

For the vast majority of patients, the benefits of dry needling outweigh the potential side effects by a large degree. If you’re interested in learning more about dry needling and finding out whether this unique dry needling therapy is the right solution to your chronic pain, schedule a consultation today!