Our physiotherapists are trained in dry needling techniques to decrease your pain and enhance recovery.

What is it?

Dry needling is a practice of inserting filiform needles through the skin barrier to elicit a therapeutic response. This treatment involves needling affected areas of the body without injecting any substance. At PhysioWorks, we practice two different types of dry needling, acupuncture and intramuscular stimulation (IMS). Acupuncture has roots from traditional chinese medicine. Over time, western medicine practices have incorporated a system of needling which includes IMS. This treatment is performed by a registered physiotherapist who has received specialized training in dry needling. They are required to have certification that is recognized by their regulatory college.

What to expect

In the first session, a detailed assessment is performed by a registered physiotherapist with proper needling qualifications. The regions that are treated are properly cleaned, sterile needles are then inserted into specific regions of the body. Once the therapeutic response occurs, the needle is removed and discarded. Typical sensations that occur are a deep aching sensation, a momentary “twitch” in the muscle or no sensation at all. Sensations from needling are temporary, lasting anywhere from seconds to a few days.

Treatment Techniques


Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine involving insertion of needles into specific points on the body to achieve a therapeutic effect.

Acupuncture points are located on a series of meridians or channels on the body that were mapped by the Chinese centuries ago. When a needle is correctly placed into these acupuncture points, it can elicit a dull, heavy, or achy feeling. In Chinese medicine, this is described as the “De Qi” response, which can be roughly translated to “manipulation of energy.” These needles are left in place for 15-30 minutes which helps to increase the effect of the point. Some practitioners may choose to manipulate the needle to strengthen the effect.



Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is a total system for the diagnosis and treatment of myofascial pain syndromes (chronic pain conditions that occur in the musculoskeletal system when there is no obvious sign of injury or inflammation).

IMS is grounded in western medical science. The needle sites tend to be at the center of taut muscle bands, or they can be near the spine where the nerve root may have become irritated and supersensitive. Shortened, supersensitive muscle will “grasp” the needle in what can be described as a cramping sensation. The result is relaxation of the tight muscle, initiating a natural healing process through the microtrauma of the needle, resetting the nervous system to normal function.


Needling FAQs

  • q: Is needling painful?

    Both acupuncture and IMS can bring on a deep ache or cramping sensation. Both of these are temporary and diminish over time. It is important to communicate with your physiotherapist during the treatment so that they can modify their techniques to your needs.

  • q: Are there any risks?

    There is a small chance of minor bleeding that can occur. Small blood vessels near the skin can be nicked. It is easily clotted by applying pressure with a cotton swab. There is also a small chance of causing a pneuomothorax when needling points in the rib cage region. Proper training and technique minimizes these risks and is thereby regulated by the College of Physiotherapists of British Columbia.

  • q: Which needling technique should I choose?

    Acupuncture is indicated for pain relief, accelerate tissue healing time, relaxing the nervous system. Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is a treatment system for calming down muscle tone and resetting the nervous system. It is typically indicated for chronic issues that are not resolving on their own. If you are not sure which technique is for you, please call us and ask a physiotherapist.

  • q: What conditions can be treated?

    Acupuncture is helpful for acute and chronic pain, mechanical and inflammatory conditions like arthritis, sciatica, sprains and strains, neck and low back pain, fibromyalgia as well as many other medical conditions.
    IMS is indicated for myofascial pain. This usually presents as a chronic condition that can be from old injuries, repetitive strain, or pain with no origin. It can also benefit some acute injuries that are a result of past medical conditions.

  • q: Should I avoid anything before or after treatment?

    It is ideal to avoid caffeine and alcohol before and after the treatment to help your body achieve homeostasis. Avoiding vigorous exercise after treatment is also suggested for the same reason.

  • q: How many visits will I need?

    This varies from client to client but the usual number is 4-6 sessions. This depends on a few factors including the severity of your condition, how long you have had this condition and your past medical history.


Physiotherapy treatments include IMS, dry needling, acupuncture, active rehab and pilates and are billed as physiotherapy for extended health plans.

*Initial Assessment

45 mins


30 mins

Full Time Student

30 mins


30 mins

*for first time clients, or clients who have not been seen in more than 3 months

Please note: IMS, dry needling and acupuncture are performed by a physiotherapist and billed as physiotherapy for extended health plans.

You will be charged the full price of your appointment if it’s cancelled within 24 hrs of your scheduled appointment and date.

We are able to direct bill some extended health plans. Please check out the FAQ’s under contact for a list of participating insurance companies.

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