Is it okay to put ice on the area after dry needling?

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Written By Dr. Marcus Yu Bin Pai

MD, PhD. Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Physician from São Paulo - Brazil. Pain Fellowship in University of São Paulo.

With dry needling, thin needles are put into trigger points in the muscle to relieve pain and muscle tension. The process can cause some pain and soreness, and many people want to know if it is safe to put ice on the area after dry needling to help ease these symptoms. In this article, we’ll talk about how safe and helpful ice is after dry needling.

Benefits of Dry Needling for muscle pain

DesensitizationDry needling can be used to reduce pain and muscular tension caused by traumatic musculoskeletal injuries. By stimulating the area of injury with a thin needle, the release of neurotransmitters can reduce the associated pain and tension.
Myofascial ReleaseDry needling can be used to relieve tightness or restriction of movement in the muscles and fascia, allowing for increased range of motion. This is achieved by releasing trigger points and restoring the natural balance of tension in the affected area.
Reducing Nerve CompressionDry needling can be used to reduce the pressure of entrapped nerves. This is achieved by loosening up the surrounding connective tissues and muscles, thus reducing their compressive force on the nerve.
Reducing InflammationDry needling can be used to reduce inflammation and swelling. This is achieved by stimulating the release of anti-inflammatory substances, such as cytokines and endorphins, which reduce the inflammatory response.
Improving CirculationDry needling can be used to improve circulation in the affected area. This is achieved by stimulating the release of various substances, such as nitric oxide, which dilate the blood vessels and improve the flow of blood.

Putting ice on a wound after dry needling can help.

Putting ice on the area where dry needling was done can help reduce swelling and pain. The ice can also numb the area, making the pain disappear. Some people find that putting ice on their skin after dry needling helps them get better faster.

Benefit of Ice for PainDescription
Reduces InflammationIce reduces inflammatory proteins in tissue and slows the rate of inflammation by constricting blood vessels. This reduces swelling, pain, and stiffness.
Numbs PainCold temperatures activate nerve endings in the skin, tricking them into believing the area is numb. This reduces pain signals sent to the brain, resulting in a decrease in pain.
Minimizes Muscle SpasmsIce can reduce muscle spasms by decreasing the nerve signals being sent to the muscles. This helps to reduce pain and discomfort.
Reduces Tissue DamageIce limits the release of inflammatory chemicals, helping to reduce tissue damage and decrease pain.

When to put ice after dry needling therapy

After dry needling, it is usually safe to use ice, but there are some rules you should follow. Here are some suggestions for when you should put ice on after dry needling:

  • Wait a few hours: Ice should not be used for at least a few hours after dry needling. This will give your body time to react to the treatment and keep you from feeling more pain or inflammation.
  • Limit the time you use the ice: don’t use it for more than 20 minutes. When ice is used for too long, it can hurt the skin and the tissues underneath it.
  • Use a barrier. Do not put ice on your skin directly. Use a barrier like a towel or cloth to keep your skin from getting frostbite or hurt.
  • Be careful: If you have diabetes, neuropathy, or Raynaud’s disease, which affects your circulation or sense of touch, be careful when applying ice and watch the area closely for signs of skin damage.

After dry needling, alternatives to ice

If putting ice on your skin after dry needling makes you feel bad or if you have a medical condition that makes it hard to use ice, there are other things you can do. These things are:

  • Heat therapy: Putting heat on the area can help relax the muscles and speed up healing. To feel better, use a warm compress or take a warm bath.
  • Massage therapy: Massaging the area can help relax the muscles and increase blood flow, which can help the body heal.
  • Stretching: Gentle exercises that stretch the area can help relieve pain and stiffness.


After dry needling, putting ice on the area can be a safe and effective way to reduce swelling and pain. But it’s essential to follow the instructions for how long to put it on and to use a barrier to keep your skin from getting hurt. You don’t have to use ice if it makes you feel bad. You can try heat therapy, massage therapy, or stretching exercises instead.

Before trying new treatments or medicine, you should always talk to your doctor or nurse.

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MD, PhD. Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Physician from São Paulo - Brazil. Pain Fellowship in University of São Paulo.

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