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Effectiveness of Dry Needling for Migraines

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In today’s fast-paced world, migraines can be a debilitating condition that affects millions of people. The pulsating ache, increased sensitivity to bright lights, and feelings of nausea can significantly impact one’s quality of life. While there are various treatments available, dry needling for migraines is emerging as a promising option for migraine pain relief.

In this article, we will delve into the effectiveness of dry needling for migraines, its advantages, and when to seek further medical advice.

For additional insights on dry needling, you can explore resources provided by RecoverRx Performance.

What is Dry Needling for Migraines?

Dry needling for migraines is a therapeutic technique that includes the gentle placement of clean, sterile needles into specific trigger points in muscles, offering an alternative to some migraine medications. 

The primary objective of treatment for migraines using dry needling is to alleviate muscle tension and promote healing, particularly for patients with tension. It aims to lessen the pain and discomfort associated with this condition.

Can Dry Needling Help with Migraines?

Migraines can produce throbbing pain, nausea, vomiting, and light and sound sensitivity. Migraines can last hours or days. Migraines may be caused by hereditary and environmental factors.

Research on dry needling for migraines is still in its early stages, but there is some evidence that it may be effective. A 2021 review of studies found that dry needling was effective in reducing headache pain intensity and frequency in people with migraines. The review also found that dry needling was more effective than other treatments, such as massage and physical therapy, for improving related disabilities in the short term.

Another study, published in 2023, found that dry needling was effective in reducing the frequency and duration of migraines in people who had failed to respond to other treatments. The study also found that dry needling was safe and well-tolerated.

Advantages of Dry Needling in Migraine Treatment

Dry needling is a minimally invasive technique that involves inserting thin needles into myofascial trigger points, which are painful knots in muscle fibers. It is a safe and effective treatment for a variety of pain conditions, including migraines.

Here are some of the advantages of dry needling in migraine treatment:

  • It is effective in reducing migraine pain intensity and frequency. A study published in the journal Pain Management found that dry needling was significantly more effective than sham needling in reducing headache frequency and intensity in patients with migraines.
  • It is a safe and well-tolerated treatment. Dry needling is generally considered to be a very safe treatment, with few side effects. Some patients may experience mild soreness or bruising at the needle insertion sites, but these side effects are usually temporary and resolve within a few days.
  • It is a relatively inexpensive treatment. Dry needling is typically less expensive than other migraine treatments, such as prescription medications or Botox injections.
  • It can be used in combination with other migraine treatments. Dry needling can be used safely and effectively in conjunction with other migraine treatments, such as medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Effectiveness of Dry Needling for Migraines

The efficacy may differ from one individual to another. While some individuals experience significant relief from migraines, others may find it less effective compared to alternative effective treatments.

The success of dry needling depends on various factors, including:

  1. Severity of Migraines

One of the primary factors influencing the effectiveness of migraine dry needling is the severity of the individual’s migraine condition. It can range from relatively mild and infrequent to severe and chronic migraines. In mild and occasional migraine pain, dry needling may offer a higher likelihood of providing substantial relief.

However, for individuals with severe and chronic headaches, the effectiveness of the treatment may vary. These individuals may require several medications, including ice packs, healing and pain relief supplements, or more intensive interventions to manage their condition effectively.

  1. Skill of the Therapist

The skill and experience of the therapist performing the dry needling are pivotal in determining the success of the treatment. A highly skilled therapist who is well-versed in the technique and knowledgeable about migraine trigger points is more likely to provide effective relief. Conversely, an inexperienced therapist may not achieve the desired results.

Therefore, it is essential to seek out a qualified healthcare professional with expertise in dry needling for migraines to maximize the chances of success.

  1. Individual Response

Individual responses to dry needling can vary considerably. While some individuals experience significant relief and improved quality of life after a few sessions, others may find the treatment less effective.

The reasons for these variations can be multifaceted, including genetic factors, overall health, and the body’s unique response to the treatment. It is essential to approach dry needling with realistic expectations and a willingness to explore alternative options if the desired relief is not achieved.

When Should I Get Further Medical Advice?

Dry needling can be a valuable addition to migraine prevention. There are other solutions for some on the journey of understanding how to help with migraines. If you experience any of the following, it is crucial to seek further medical advice:

  • Severe and persistent migraines
  • Neurological symptoms such as vision changes or difficulty speaking
  • New-onset migraines in older age

A medical expert can evaluate your condition and recommend a comprehensive treatment plan.


In conclusion, dry needling for migraines is a promising approach that offers pain relief and improved quality of life for many individuals. It is a non-invasive, personalized treatment with minimal side effects. However, its effectiveness can vary, and it may not be suitable for all migraine sufferers.

If you are considering dry needling, consult RecoverRX Performance Physical Therapy to determine the best course of action for your case.


  1. Is dry needling painful?

Dry needling may cause temporary discomfort during the procedure, but it is generally well-tolerated. The discomfort is often minimal and subsides quickly.

  1. How many dry needling sessions are typically required for migraine relief?

The number of sessions needed varies from person to person. Some individuals may experience relief after a few sessions, while others may require more.

  1. Can I get dry needling for migraines in a regular physiotherapy clinic?

Yes, many physiotherapy clinics offer dry needling services for migraine pain. Be certain to select a certified and experienced therapist.

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Dr. Luke GreenwellDr. David Bokermann and Dr. Sarah Greenwell are Performance Based Physical Therapists with extensive backgrounds in optimizing movement, performance, & recovery.


We help Athletes and Active Adults Recover from Pain and Injury, Rebuild Functional Movement Patterns, and Redefine their Future Performance,  for a Return to the Sports and Activities they Love

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