In recent years, dry needling has emerged as a popular physical therapy technique. It is used to treat various musculoskeletal conditions, including those experienced by athletes. Golfers, in particular, face numerous challenges due to the repetitive and complex nature of their sport. In this article, we will explore how dry needling can help golfers overcome various injuries, enhance performance, and maintain a pain-free golfing experience.


  • Dry needling is an effective physical therapy technique for treating various musculoskeletal conditions, including golf-related injuries.
  • It can help reduce pain, improve range of motion, and enhance the healing response. It is useful for golfers suffering from conditions like tennis and golfer's elbow.
  • Dry needling is distinct from acupuncture. It focuses on targeting myofascial trigger points and muscle spasms for relief and improved function.
  • Combining dry needling with other treatments like manual therapy, laser therapy, and therapeutic exercises can lead to more comprehensive healing and performance enhancement.
  • Golfers need to maintain proper swing mechanics, seek prompt treatment for pain or injuries, and commit to a comprehensive therapy plan for long-term benefits and improved performance.

Dry Needling and Elbow Pain

Among the common ailments faced by golfers, tennis and golfer’s elbow make it challenging for them to perform at their best level. These conditions, known as lateral and medial epicondylitis, respectively, are characterized by pain and discomfort on the lateral (outer) and medial (inner) aspect of the elbow. Persistent elbow pain can significantly impact a golfer's swing and overall performance.

Benefits of Dry Needling for Golfers

Dry needling offers several benefits for golfers experiencing these painful conditions:

Pain Relief and Reduced Inflammation

Dry needling can offer significant pain relief by focusing on the tight and tense muscle fibers that may cause pain patterns and dysfunction. By getting these muscles to relax, it can help reduce inflammation. It will also promote healing in tendon and ligament injuries, such as those seen in tennis and golfer's elbow.

Improved Range of Motion and Flexibility

By targeting muscle spasms, dry needling can help golfers regain a more extensive range of motion and improve flexibility. This increased mobility is crucial for maintaining proper golf swing mechanics and minimizing injury risk.

Enhanced Healing Response and Blood Flow

Dry needling stimulates the healing response in the body by promoting tissue repair and regeneration. Additionally, the needling technique improves blood flow to the treated area. This extra blood provides essential nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and tendons. These nutrients and oxygen promote healing and recovery.

How Dry Needling Helps 

Difference Between Acupuncture and Dry Needling

Dry needling appears similar to acupuncture on the surface, but they are different treatments. While both involve the insertion of fine needles into the body, acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The main concepts behind TCM is energy flow (qi) and meridian lines. Dry needling focuses on trigger points and muscle spasms to treat musculoskeletal conditions.

Addressing Muscle Tension and Dysfunction

A chiropractor/physical therapist trained in dry needling identifies the muscle tension and dysfunction that causes pain or limited movement in a patient. These areas are then targeted with a fine filament needle, which is inserted through the skin and into the affected muscle. The needle's insertion stimulates a localized healing response that improves the muscle tension and restores normal function. This leads to pain relief and improved mobility.

Use of Fine Filament Needles

Dry needling utilizes very fine filament needles that cause minimal discomfort when inserted into the muscle. These needles are designed to precisely target muscle spasms responsible for pain and dysfunction.

Dry Needling in Combination with Other Physical Therapy Treatments

Manual Therapy

Dry needling can be combined with manual therapy techniques. Techniques like soft tissue manipulation and joint mobilization. This combination can enhance and promote overall musculoskeletal health.

Laser Therapy 

Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is another treatment modality that can be used in conjunction with dry needling. LLLT uses light energy to stimulate cellular healing and reduce pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms.

Therapeutic Exercises and Stretches

In addition to dry needling, a comprehensive physical therapy treatment plan for golfers should include targeted exercises and stretches. These exercises will help further improve range of motion, strength, stability, and flexibility, enabling golfers to return to peak performance and prevent future injuries. 

Safety and Considerations for Dry Needling

Dry Needling Performed by a Trained Chiropractor/Physical Therapist

To ensure the best results and minimize the risk of complications, it is essential that dry needling be performed by a licensed and  chiropractor/physical therapist with specialized training in this technique.

Potential Side Effects and Risks

As with any medical intervention, there are some potential side effects and risks associated with dry needling. These may include bleeding, bruising, or soreness at the needle insertion site. However, these side effects are generally mild and temporary.

Contraindications for Dry Needling Treatment

Dry needling may not be appropriate for everyone. Certain conditions, such as infections, skin disorders, or blood clotting disorders, may contraindicate this treatment. It is essential to consult with a qualified professional to determine if dry needling is appropriate for your specific condition and needs.

Comparing Dry Needling to Other Therapy Options

Effectiveness of Dry Needling in Comparison to Acupuncture 

While both dry needling and acupuncture use needles to influence the body's healing processes, their underlying principles and intended effects differ significantly. For musculoskeletal conditions affecting golfers, dry needling has shown greater effectiveness in addressing specific pain points and muscle dysfunction than traditional acupuncture.

Benefits of Combining Dry Needling with Other Forms of Treatment

Dry needling may yield even better results when combined with other forms of treatment, such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, stretches, or laser therapy. By addressing various aspects of rehabilitation simultaneously, a comprehensive therapy plan can help golfers recover more effectively from injuries and enhance their performance.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Therapy for Individual Needs

It is essential to work closely with a qualified professional to determine which combination of treatments is best suited for your specific needs and goals. Factors such as your medical history, current physical condition, and personal preferences should all be considered when developing a personalized therapy plan.


In conclusion, dry needling is an effective treatment for various golf-related injuries, offering numerous benefits such as pain relief, improved range of motion, and enhanced healing response. By working with qualified professionals and considering a multifaceted approach to rehabilitation, golfers can overcome pain and discomfort and experience improved performance and enjoyment of their sport. Above all, maintaining proper swing mechanics, seeking prompt treatment, and committing to a comprehensive therapy plan can equip golfers with the tools they need to excel in their game and prevent future injuries.

Byron  Lam

Byron Lam

Chiropractor, CCSP®, FR® Spine

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