Safety-First Dry Needling and Risk Management

Attending your first dry needling course can be daunting and even a bit scary. Sticking a needle into a colleague and later into a patient may be intimidating in the beginning. Furthermore, other clinicians, who likely have never needled anyone before either, will be practicing dry needling on you! You may already know that there are certain risks associated with dry needling, such as pneumothorax, nerve injuries, or even spinal cord injuries, which we address during our courses.

When exploring which company offers the safest, evidence-based, and most comprehensive courses, Myopain Seminars has the longest history of all dry needling course providers to meet all your dry needling education needs. After just one course, our students are confident and skilled to start using dry needling safely in the clinic for the muscles covered during the course.

“I was nervous and a little intimidated to take this course, but felt the instruction was top notch. I now feel confident and comfortable taking this knowledge to the clinic,”

according to physical therapist Suzie from Franklin, WI. Physical therapist Michelle C. from Des Plaines, IL shared this sentiment:

“I enjoyed this class so much more than I thought I would! I’ve never experienced dry needling before and was scared at first, but after taking this course, I feel at ease knowing it’s not scary at all, and I feel much more knowledgeable now!”

Myopain Seminars’ dry needling students frequently comment on how much attention our instructors pay to safe needling, precautions, anatomy, palpation, and overall risk management. Clinicians working with dry needlers trained by different course providers notice that Myopain-trained therapists are more thorough and comprehensive. Even students who have taken dry needling courses by other course providers before switching to Myopain agree that Myopain Seminars is the safest dry needling company!

You may not necessarily consider a dry needling course as having a positive risk management impact on your practice but reducing the risks of injury and liability claims are directly linked to the qualifications of the instructors, the policies of your dry needling course provider, and of course, the quality of the dry needling courses. Clinicians must be “familiar with the risks and harms associated with the assessment and treatment interventions they employ, including common and mild side effects and rare, severe harms,” according to the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta. Dry needling is an invasive procedure that carries specific risks, and minimizing those risks starts with choosing a dry needling provider.

Myopain Seminars was the first dry needling course company to collect adverse event data among its graduates. In other words, we have data showing how safe our dry needling courses are. Brady, McEvoy, Dommerholt, and Doody researched a sample of our students and showed that the risk of a serious adverse event among Myopain dry needling graduates was less than 0.04% [1]! While other course providers readily quote this study, note that these amazing outcomes are not necessarily the same for other course providers. Case in point, another adverse events study showed nearly twice as many minor needling injuries among their study subjects as compared to the Myopain graduates [2]!

Safety has always been the focus of Dr. Jan Dommerholt, co-founder, and president of Myopain Seminars.

“I vividly remember the first dry needling course I attended as a young student. Since no formal dry needling courses were offered in the US, I had to travel abroad. The first muscle that was covered in the course was the upper trapezius muscle. To my amazement, the instructor never mentioned the proximity of the lungs to the upper trap. There was no review of precautions, anatomy, or recommended needle length or needle direction. Even worse, there were so many students in the course, that the instructor did not even bother checking students during their first needling experience. My lab partner and I had never handled a needle before, and I must admit, that I was quite nervous about letting her stick a needle in my upper trap without proper instruction and supervision. I decided at that time that if I would ever teach dry needling courses, I would do things very differently. Safety first became my motto!”

In the past, acupuncture societies would argue that dry needling by physical therapists is unregulated. While that is not completely accurate, as State Boards of Physical Therapy are charged with protecting the public and overseeing physical therapy practice, “due diligence is critical to ensure educational investment is precise, thorough, evidence based and experienced,” according to Dr. Elizabeth Hampton, CEO and Clinic Director of CorePhysio in Bellingham, WA. Even today, some dry needling course providers teach large groups of 50-60 clinicians with just one instructor! Myopain Seminars maintains an instructor-student ratio of 1:11 in our basic dry needling courses.

What makes the Myopain Seminars dry needling courses the safest courses?

There are many reasons why Myopain Seminars has developed a well-deserved reputation of being the safest dry needling course provider.

1 For starters, consider the qualifications of our instructors and the rigorous training program they complete before they are qualified to stand in front of a class!

Compare that to a dry needling course provider who claimed to the New Jersey Board of Physical Therapy that his graduate PT education included all dry needling instruction, sufficient to qualify him to teach dry needling courses combined with years of dry needling practice in Oregon State. A simple fact check revealed that students were only allowed to needle the quadriceps muscle during his graduate PT education! About practicing dry needling in Oregon, dry needling by PTs is illegal in Oregon and not considered to be within the scope of PT practice! Nevertheless, the NJ PT Board approved his courses….

Some course providers allow students to assist after attending just one course: “staff who have completed [one course] can gain free CEUs by serving as lab assistants.” To the contrary, Myopain Seminars assistant instructors are graduates of the Myopain Seminars course programs (CMTPT), have completed our Clinical Pearls & Review course, have several years of clinical dry needling experience, and are hand-picked by our instructors.

2 Our safety instructions include a thorough review of OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Protocol, a comprehensive review of precautions, safe needling techniques for every muscle, scar, and fascial restriction, and close supervision during all course lab sessions.

3 Our instructors have studied human anatomy in detail not only during their clinical education but also during the Myopain Seminars Dry Needling Dissection courses in Colorado Springs, CO. Jan Dommerholt and his team have verified our needling techniques using videofluoroscopy and sonography, through clinical practice, and research on human cadavers. Other researchers have examined our dry needling techniques and concluded that “utilizing the technique by Dommerholt allows the clinician to adopt an appropriate needle angle to potentially reach the piriformis muscle” [3].  Jan Dommerholt consults with researchers, fellows, and PhD students at several universities in the US and abroad and continuously explores and quantifies safe needling techniques.

4 In 2023, Jan Dommerholt co-founded the International Dry Needling Education & Training Advisory Group together with Dr. Wael Mahmoud from Melbourne, Australia after a British liability insurance company implemented very strict eligibility criteria for osteopaths. In fact, clinicians would no longer be eligible for liability insurance if they were needling multifidi muscles and other spinal muscles. The objective of the IDNETAG is to review, develop, and publish evidence-based dry needling guidelines. Members of the group include experienced dry needling clinicians and researchers from Australia, Taiwan, Iran, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, the UK, and the US. The first publication by the IDNETAG team is currently being prepared.

5 To become dry needling certified by Myopain Seminars, our students must pass rigorous practical and theoretical examinations, a process we take very seriously to assure our high standards for precision and client safety. Every five years, our graduates must show evidence of further study in dry needling, contribute to the scientific dry needling literature, or present a lecture about dry needling at a national conference.

A significant part of our risk management strategies is ensuring that our students and graduates will be highly qualified not only in dry needling, but also understand and implement solid clinical reasoning skills. Our students are expected to know the relevant anatomy, recognize the inherent risks of needling certain muscles, and develop safe risk management strategies.

6 Jan Dommerholt and his team contribute extensively to the scientific literature on dry needling. Did you know that Jan is one of the most prolific published scientific authors in the field of dry needling for myofascial pain [4]?

Other clinicians and researchers have cited Jan Dommerholt thousands of times from around the world!

Geographic Citation Map

His dry needling textbook “Trigger Point Dry Needling; An Evidenced and Clinical-Based Approach,” co-edited with Dr. Cesar Fernández de las Peñas, is the best-selling dry needling textbook in the world [5]! Did you know other course providers use Jan’s book to teach their students?

In summary, risk management, safety, integrity, and quality of the instructors and course materials are important factors in selecting the best dry needling course company. Our students tell us that we continue to be the obvious choice!

“I wish all PMR doctors would take this course. | will be able to treat my patients with more skill & anatomy knowledge. I will be a better doctor,” says physiatrist Dr. Carley Whitt from Charlottesville, VA.

“I love the Myopain Seminars courses. They are the safest + most evidence-based courses in this area. I feel much more confident needling and know I am going to help my patients that much more!” Elena M., PT, DPT – Wallingford, CT


The Obvious Choice for Dry Needling Education

Dry Needling Course Series

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The Dry Needling 1 course is an excellent starting point for learning the fundamentals of dry needling therapy. With a focus on the safe and effective application of dry needling techniques, you will gain a solid understanding of myofascial trigger points, needling techniques, precautions, and how to apply these techniques in clinical practice.

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The Dry Needling 2 course is an intermediate-level course that provides in-depth knowledge and hands-on training for dry needling techniques of the extremities, including the upper and lower body. By completing this course, you will expand upon the skills you acquired in the DN-1 course and better understand the application of dry needling for managing musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction.

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The Dry Needling 3 course is the final course in the series and the last step before becoming a Certified Myofascial Trigger Point Therapist – Dry Needling (CMTPT/DN). This course offers an in-depth study of advanced dry needling techniques for hand muscles, several lower extremity and foot muscles, the craniofacial and craniomandibular muscles, and more.

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  1. Brady, S., et al., Adverse events following dry needling: A prospective survey of Chartered Physiotherapists. J Manual Manipul Ther, 2014. 22(3): p. 134-140.
  2. Boyce, D., et al., Adverse events associated with therapeutic dry needling. Int J Sports Phys Ther, 2020. 15(1): p. 103-113.
  3. Kearns, G., et al., Accuracy and safety of dry needle placement in the piriformis muscle in cadavers. J Man Manip Ther, 2018. 26(2): p. 89-96.
  4. Luo, N., et al., Bibliometric and Visual Analysis in the Field of Dry Needling for Myofascial Pain Syndrome from 2000 to 2022. J Pain Res, 2023. 16: p. 2461-2475.
  5. Dommerholt, J. and C. Fernández-de-las-Peñas, Trigger point dry needling; an evidenced and clinical-based approach. 2 ed. 2018, Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash

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