Soft Tissue Therapy

Dry Needling | Graston Technique

At Complete Wellness, we offer two types of soft tissue therapies: Dry Needling and Graston Technique. Both therapies reduce pain, release trigger points & restore function. Below are helpful resources to explain more about Dry Needling and Graston Technique. To learn more about the resources we offer visit our services page.


Over time, because of poor posture, injuries, or simple wear and tear, your muscles and tissues become tight and form knots as well as scar tissue. Muscle knots and scar tissue can trap or irritate nerve endings causing pain. 

Dry needling therapy utilizes tiny, thin Acupuncture needles that are placed into your tight muscles and muscle knots. The needles cause your tissue to relax and unwind- a lot like a ball of yarn unwinding. This increases blood flow, relaxes muscles and releases endorphins which are your happy chemicals.

With dry needling therapy you can expect to relax and unwind for about 10 minutes while the needles do their work, and we top off your treatment with a hot towel. 

So if you are sick of hurting or feel tight and sore, then talk to us about dry needling, it could be the missing piece in your journey to health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Difference Between Acupuncture and Dry Needling?

There are obvious similarities between dry needling and acupuncture in that the needles used are identical. Generally dry needling is based on Western anatomical and neurophysiological principles, which are not to be confused with the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique of acupuncture.

TCM is based on the use of “pulses,” “coatings” and “meridians” (or channels). It is derived from ancient Chinese philosophy and culture, with traditional acupuncture needles inserted into defined acupoints. Advocates of traditional acupuncture promote its use for treating a range of physical and psychological problems.

Unlike the specific tissue targets used in dry needling, acupoints do not necessarily match our understanding of anatomy. Also, the proposed treatment mechanism is largely inconsistent with modern medical science.

How Does Dry Needling Acupuncture Work?

As I mentioned previously, the exact mechanisms of dry needling are complex and not fully known. However, there is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the positive effect inserting a needle has on the electrical and chemical communications that take place in our nervous system. These include inhibiting the transmission of pain signals in our spinal cord and increasing the release of our own pain relieving chemicals within our brains.

Dry needling uses a very fine, solid filament needle to cause a small, precise injury or “lesion” in the tissue when it enters the body. The tiny needle induces injury signals the brain uses to initiate a sequence of events to replace or repair the damaged tissue with new, healthy tissue. Needling in a painful ‘trigger point’ ormuscular knot frequently provokes a “twitch” response from the muscle. This is both diagnostic as well as therapeutic, because healthy muscle tissue will not “twitch” when stimulated by the needle. Once a “twitch” response has been elicited, the muscle fibers in that area relax, ‘inflammation’ is reduced and circulation improves. As a result of these physiologic processes, dry needling can purposely address muscle, tendon and myofascial pain and dysfunction.

Personally, I feel dry needling has a complex effect on the body’s fascial make-up: with fascia being the connective tissue that surrounds muscles and joints, and keeps everything together. Originally fascia was thought to be an innate substance with minimal neural input/output, but on-going research has found that fascia is a highly innervated tissue (lots of nerves), and therefore would have a strong response to a slightly invasive treatment technique – such as dry needling.

What Will I Feel During My Dry Needling Session?

Generally, needle insertion is not felt. The local twitch response or sudden slight contraction of the muscle may provoke a very brief pain response. This has been described as an electric shock or a cramping sensation. A therapeutic response occurs with the elicitation of local twitch responses. Thus, a good and desirable reaction.

During treatment, and depending on the dry needling technique used, patients commonly experience heaviness in the limbs or a pleasant feeling or relaxation. Following this technique some muscle soreness may be felt up to 24-48 hrs. The application of heat or ice depending of the needling site and drinking plenty of fluids usually reduces the soreness.

Where Does Dry Needling Fit Into My Rehabilitation Plan?

Dry needling is the modality of choice when it comes to treating acute injuries, muscle spasms or muscle pattern imbalances. It is very common to initiate dry needling at the beginning of your treatment program in order to break the pain cycle. Once that is achieved, other treatment options are introduced.

Typically, it takes several visits for a positive reaction to take place, as the needling is looking to cause mechanical and biochemical changes without any pharmacological means.  herefore, we are looking for a cumulative response to achieve a certain threshold after which the pain cycle is disturbed.

While dry needling can be very useful in relieving pain it does not necessarily address the source of the pain. For example, someone with advanced osteoarthritis of the hip or knee may have associated secondary muscular pain as the muscles compensate to avoid movement related with pain. Dry needling can be valuable in relieving the pain but it will not reverse the osteoarthritic alterations in the hip that are the source of the muscular pain.

The benefits of Dry Needling frequently include more than just relief from a particular condition. Many people find that it can also lead to increased energy levels, better appetite and sleep as well as an enhanced sense of overall wellbeing.


Graston technique helps you to heal better by utilizing surgical grade stainless steel tools that we rub over the areas where painful scar tissue and muscle knots have formed. This motion effectively breaks down bad tissue and speeds up healing. Many times patients feel immediate results. 

Here’s what you can expect: we will start by applying an emollient that allows the tool to glide over the skin. We will then select one of the surgical grade stainless steel tools and begin lightly and gently rubbing over the areas of pain and adhesions. We slowly go deeper a little at a time and stop when we feel the adhesions break down through the tool. Over multiple sessions we are able to go deeper and deeper breaking through layers of scar tissue that are a result of years of wear and tear.  

So If you want to feel better and heal better, talk to us today about Graston Technique. It could be a game changer in your journey to health

Frequently Asked Questions

What Conditions Can Graston Technique (GT) Treat?

GT-trained clinicians use GT instruments to effectively and efficiently address soft tissue lesions and fascial restrictions while treating acute and chronic conditions, including:

  • Achilles Tendinitis/osis (ankle pain)
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (wrist pain)
  • Cervicothoracic Sprain/Strain (neck pain)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lateral Epicondylitis/osis (tennis elbow)
  • Lumbosacral Sprain/Strain (back pain)
  • Medial Epicondylitis/osis (golfer’s elbow)
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes
  • Patellofemoral Disorders (knee pain)
  • Plantar Fasciitis/osis (foot pain)
  • Post surgeries such as joint replacements, RTC repairs (once post-surgical protocol allows for soft tissue
    mobilization/manual therapy)
  • Rotator Cuff Tendinitis/osis (shoulder pain)
  • Scar Tissue/post-surgical scars (once completely closed)
  • Patients demonstrating central and/or peripheral sensitization (only used in light stroking/brushing
    mode to desensitize)
  • Shin Splints
  • Trigger Finger
  • Women’s Health (post-mastectomy and Caesarean scarring)

Graston Technique ®  can be used to treat any movement system dysfunction that has been determined to have a soft tissue component.

Is Graston Technique and Evidence-based Form of Manual Therapy?

Empirical and anecdotal evidence exists for the following physiological effects of GT:

  • Separates and breaks down collagen cross-links, and splays and stretches connective tissue and muscle
  • Facilitates reflex changes in the chronic muscle holding pattern (inhibition of abnormal tone/guarding
    leading to pain reduction via improved sensory input)
  • Alters/inhibits spinal reflex activity (facilitated segment)
  • Increases the rate and amount of blood flow to and from the area (angiogenesis vs. immediate local
    increases in blood flow)
  • Increases cellular activity in the region, including fibroblasts and mast cells
  • Increases histamine response secondary to mast cell activity

What Kind of Results Can You Expect with Graston Technique?

Historically, the Graston Technique ®  has had positive outcomes in 75-90 percent of all conditions treated. It is equally effective in restoring function to acute and chronic injuries, pre- and post-surgical patients and maintaining optimal range of motion.

Contact Us


    Apex Center

    (919) 362 5646
    320 N Salem St
    Apex, NC 27502

    Raleigh Center

    (919) 908-9491
    7920 Skyland Ridge Pkwy Suite 160
    Raleigh, NC 27617