Dry Needling Complications: Is it Safe During Pregnancy?

Dry Needling Complications: Is it Safe During Pregnancy?


When it comes to managing pain during pregnancy, expecting mothers often explore various options. One such method gaining popularity is dry needling. However, concerns about dry needling complications arise, leading many to question its safety during pregnancy.

In this article, we will delve into the practice of dry needling, its safety during pregnancy, potential dry needling complications, and the benefits it can offer to expectant mothers. By understanding the details of this treatment, you can make an informed decision about whether it’s the right choice.

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling (DN) refers to the insertion of a single-use sterile monofilament needle (without the use of injectate) into/near target muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, scar tissue, peripheral nerves, and neurovascular bundles. This technique is used for the management of a variety of neuro- musculoskeletal pain syndromes through the activation of the body’s natural physiologic responses.

Dry needling has been shown to reduce pain by stimulating the peripheral and central nervous systems by altering information pathway coming to and from those areas.

The insertion of a monofilament needle into the target tissue also creates micro-traumas. This brings nutrient rich blood flow to the area and re-starts the body’s natural healing processes.

Often electrical stimulation is utilized on the needles, termed electro-dry needling (EDN), which has shown to produce profound effects of pain control in the short- and long-term timelines.

Is Dry Needling Safe During Pregnancy?

Is Dry Needling safe During Pregnancy?

Given the state of the current evidence, several professional organizations have made recommendations on the use of dry needling for musculoskeletal conditions during pregnancy. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) released their stance in the 2013 Description of Dry Needling in Clinical Practice, stating, “Dry needling during the first trimester of pregnancy, during which miscarriage is fairly common, must be approached with caution, even though there is no evidence that dry needling has any potential abortifacient effects.” Furthermore, the Dry Needling Institute of the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy (AAMT), suggests that “the number of needles used, the intensity of manual manipulation of the needles, and the duration that the needles are left in place should be kept to a minimum in this population.” AAMT further recommends that, “electrical dry needling (or electroacupuncture) should be avoided as would TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) in this population.” Importantly, and based on the existing literature to date, neither APTA nor Dry Needling Institute of AAMT are suggesting that dry needling be avoided in pregnant women with musculoskeletal impairments; that is, dry needling during pregnancy should be considered a precaution, not an absolute contraindication.

Before considering dry needling during pregnancy, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional, preferably one with experience in prenatal care and dry needling. They can assess your situation, including the potential risk of complications, and provide recommendations based on your specific needs and medical condition.

The Dry Needling Procedure During Pregnancy

Relieving Pain and Discomfort

Dry needling can offer relief from various pregnancy-related discomforts, including lower back pain, sciatica, pelvic pain, and myofascial pain syndrome. The needle insertion into targeted muscles can help release tension and reduce pain.

Improving Physical Function

For some pregnant women, reduced mobility and physical function are common issues. Dry needling may help improve range of motion and flexibility, making daily activities more manageable.

Addressing Musculoskeletal Conditions Specific to Pregnancy

In a review of 26 Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) involving 4,093 pregnant women, the authors found moderate-quality evidence that acupuncture treatment or exercise significantly lowers evening pelvic discomfort or lumbopelvic pain better than conventional treatment alone, especially when performed at 26 weeks gestation.

This suggests that alternative therapies, like dry needling, may be beneficial in addressing pregnancy-related musculoskeletal pain.

Benefits of Dry Needling During Pregnancy

Dry Needling During Pregnancy

Dry needling, when performed by a qualified professional, can offer several benefits during pregnancy:

  • Non-Invasive: Dry needling is non-invasive,making it a potentially attractive option for expectant mothers seeking natural pain relief.
  • Drug-Free Pain Relief: It provides drug-free pain relief, which can be particularly appealing to those who prefer to avoid medication during pregnancy.
  • Quick and Effective: Dry needling sessions are typically quick and may offer immediate relief, making it a convenient choice for busy pregnant women.
  • Customized Treatment: Dry needling can be tailored to address the individual needs and symptoms of each patient, providing personalized care.

What to Expect During the Dry Needling Session?

What to Expect During the Dry Needling Session?

During a dry needling session, you can expect the following:

Assessment: The practitioner will assess your condition and determine the appropriate areas for needling.

Sterile Needles: Sterile, thin filiform needles will be inserted into specific trigger points or muscle bands.

Minimal Discomfort: While you may feel some pain during treatment, it is typically manageable and short-lived.

Aftercare: Your medical practitioner will provide aftercare instructions, which may include continuing gentle movement and staying hydrated.  It is typically recommended to avoid using ice/NSAIDs as these may reduce the affect of the dry needling treatment. 

Consult Continuous Motion Physical Therapy

When considering dry needling during pregnancy, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional with expertise in both prenatal care and dry needling. Continuous Motion Physical Therapy, a reputable provider in the field, offers various services, including dry needling, to address musculoskeletal issues during pregnancy. They understand the unique needs of expectant mothers and provide safe and effective treatment plans tailored to individual cases.


Dry needling can be a valuable tool for managing pregnancy-related discomfort and musculoskeletal issues when performed by a qualified practitioner. The safety of dry needling during pregnancy depends on several factors, including the expertise of the practitioner and the individual needs of the patient.

Expectant mothers should consult with healthcare professionals experienced in dry needling and pregnancy to determine the best approach for their situation. When performed safely and effectively, dry needling can offer much-needed relief to pregnant women, helping them navigate the challenges of pregnancy with greater comfort and well-being.

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Dr. Cameron Moore

PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, CSCS, Dip. Osteopractic

Helping active people STAY active

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Dr. Peyton Oules, PT, DPT Cert. DN

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Dr. Peyton Oules, physical therapist, is a Brewster, Washington native who grew up as a small-town athlete. During her high school sports career, she suffered from two ACL injuries which led her to pursue a career in physical therapy. 

She began her studies by earning her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, Pre-PT at Eastern Washington University.  During her undergraduate studies, she spent much of her time playing volleyball and coaching at the high school level.  Dr. Oules continued her education to earn her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Franklin Pierce University in Goodyear, Arizona.While in school, Dr. Oules became Certified in both Dry Needling and Myofascial Cupping.

Part of her clinical training included international travel to Sydney, Australia where she expanded her orthopedic skill set and had the opportunity to provide treatment for the athletes from the 2023 World Underwater Hockey Championships.

During her doctorate level studies, Dr. Oules learned the importance in making movement a lifestyle. She has a passion for sharing this knowledge with the community and getting her clients back to the activities they love.

Outside of the clinic Dr. Oules enjoys CrossFit®, hiking, traveling, and spending time outdoors with her dog, Rue. Some of her favorite adventures to date include hiking parts of the Grand Canyon and running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Sydney 10k!

Dr. Peyton Oules’ Credentials:
•           Physical Therapist (PT)
•           Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
•           Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)

Dr. Khristian McGinley, PT, DPT Cert. DN

therapy in pregnancy

Dr. Khristian McGinley, physical therapist, grew up here in Phoenix, as a competitive softball player with a longtime passion for health and wellness. After sustaining an elbow injury in high school and attending PT herself, she knew that she wanted to pursue a career helping people recover from injuries and getting back to doing what they love. She eventually received her B.S in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Arizona in 2013, then earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Franklin Pierce University in 2017.

Dr. McGinley began her career with a passion in pediatrics and orthopedics, undergoing coursework to treat diagnoses such as torticollis, developmental delay, and toe walking. She also became certified in Dry Needling in 2017, and since then has been additionally trained in Dry Needling for Pelvic Rehabilitation. After the challenging birth of her first child, she developed a passion for treating the pregnant and postpartum population. She became specialty training in Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation in 2021 and since then has focused her practice on helping moms achieve pain free pregnancy, peaceful childbirth, and complete postpartum recovery. She specializes in diagnoses such as urinary incontinence, diastases recti, pelvic organ prolapse, and pelvic pain.

Outside of the clinic, Dr. McGinley enjoys hiking, running, camping, weight lifting, and playing slow pitch softball. She loves spending as much time as she can outside with her husband and two children.

Dr. Khristian McGinley’s Credentials:

  • ​Physical Therapist (PT)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)
  • Specialty-trained in Pelvic Floor Therapy

Dr. Meredith Wall, PT, DPT FAFS, Cert. DN

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Dr. Meredith Wall, physical therapist, grew up as a competitive athlete in basketball, gymnastics, soccer and volleyball. After sustaining an ankle injury and going to rehab as a young athlete, she instantly fell in love with learning about sports injuries and rehabilitation. This led her to major in Exercises Science at Grand Valley State University. After she graduated in 2010, she immediately pursued physical therapy to ultimately achieve her lifelong goals of becoming a physical therapist. She earned a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Grand Valley State University in 2013, graduating as a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society recognizing individuals with outstanding GPA in a college graduate program.

Dr. Wall continued her educational pathway through the Gray Institute receiving a fellowship in Applied Functional Science (FAFS). A FAFS is only obtained by a select number of practitioners, who deliver optimal care through the diagnosis and treatment of functional human movement. She also became Certified in Dry Needling (Cert. DN) in 2017, is trained in the McKenzie Method to treat spinal pain, and most recently has become specialized in Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation. This specialty area allows her to treat women across the lifespan dealing with incontinence, diastasis recti, pelvic pain, and pain during or after pregnancy.

Dr. Wall’s special interests include diagnosing and treating active patients across the lifespan to help them return to optimal function. In her spare time, she enjoys Crossfit®, running, coaching youth sports, and traveling with her husband and three sons.

Dr. Meredith Wall’s Credentials:

  • ​Physical Therapist (PT)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Fellow of Applied Functional Science (FAFS)
  • Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)
  • Specialty-trained in Pelvic Floor Therapy

Dr. Cameron Moore, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, CSCS, Dip. Osteopractic

skilled thrapist

Dr. Cameron Moore, physical therapist and co-owner, has always been very active with sports and activities starting with competitive motocross racing up to a semi-professional level and being a scholarship athlete in track and field competing at the division 1 level in college at Eastern Washington University in the triple jump. Cameron became interested in the profession of physical therapy after having knee surgery in high school and seeing the inter-workings of the profession. He pursued his bachelors degree in Exercise Science before moving to Phoenix to earn his Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) from Franklin Pierce University.

He then began specialization courses for spinal manipulation (Spinal Manipulation Institute) and dry needling (Dry Needling Institute). This lead Cameron in to becoming a Fellow of the American Academy of Manual Physical Therapist (FAAOMPT) through the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy (AAMT) and earned a Diploma of Osteopractic®, a distinction and training that only a small percentage of physical therapist have completed.

Dr. Moore continues to be very involved with motocross riding, Crossfit®, Olympic weight lifting, running and an overall active lifestyle with his Wife (Michelle) and their Vizsla (Parker).

Dr. Cameron Moore’s Credentials

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Certified in Dry Needling (Cert DN)
  • Certified in Spinal Manipulation (Cert SMT)
  • Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
  • Diploma in Osteopractic® (Dip Osteopractic)
  • Fellow Of The American Academy Of Manual Physical Therapist (FAAOMPT)
  • American Academy of Manipulative Therapy Fellow (AAMT)
  • Crossfit® Level 1 Certified (CF-L1)
  • Crossfit® Mobility Certified
  • USA Track and Field Level 1 Coach

Dr. Michelle Moore, PT, DPT FAAOMPT, Dip. Osteopractic

weightlifting in physical therapy

Dr. Michelle Moore, physical therapist and co-owner, grew up as a competitive gymnast and developed a passion for healthy living from a young age. Her collegiate studies in Health Education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and athletic background influenced her to combine her passions and pursue a career in physical therapy. She earned a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Franklin Pierce University in 2013.

Dr. Moore continued her educational pathway through the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy where she earned her Diploma Osteopractic® (Dip. Osteopractic) and became Certified in Dry Needling (Cert. DN), and Spinal Manipulative Therapy (Cert. SMT). From 2016-2017 Dr. Moore completed the rigorous coursework to become a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (FAAOMPT), a distinction held by only a fraction of the profession.

Dr. Moore’s special interests include treating active individuals and returning them to the activities that they love. In her spare time she enjoys Crossfit®, Olympic Weightlifting, mountain biking, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Cameron, and dog, Parker.

Dr. Michelle Moore’s Credentials:

  • ​Physical Therapist (PT)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Fellow of American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT)
  • Diploma in Osteopractic® (Dip. Osteopractic)
  • Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)
  • Certified Spinal Manipulative Therapy (Cert. SMT)
  • Crossfit® Mobility Certified