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Colorado Physical Therapy Dry Needling

Dry needling is a physical intervention that uses a filiform needle to stimulate trigger points, diagnose and treat neuromuscular pain and functional movement deficits; is based upon Western medical concepts; requires an examination and diagnosis; and treats specific anatomic structures selected according to physical signs.

In order to perform dry needling, a physical therapist must have the knowledge, skill, ability, and documented competency to perform dry needling.

Course Requirements

To be deemed competent to perform dry needling, a physical therapist must successfully complete a formalized course of study provided by a qualified licensed healthcare provider that:

    • Includes a minimum of fifty (50) hours of education of which forty hours must be in-person education. The education may be broken up into more than one part. A physical therapist is permitted the limited practice of dry needling once the physical therapist has completed thirty hours, as long as such practice is confined to the scope of the education already successfully completed. All parts of this education must be successfully completed within four (4) years.
    • Includes specific knowledge and psychomotor objectives;
    • Includes clinical decision-making;
    • ·Includes written and psychomotor assessment of knowledge and skills.

The formalized course of study may be completed during the physical therapist’s entry level education. To apply this education to the requirements, the remaining parts of the education must be successfully completed within four (4) years of the date of original licensure.

If the physical therapist has not completed at least fifty (50) hours of dry needling training within four (4) years, then the licensee must stop performing dry needling at any level until the licensee has completed at least fifty (50) hours.

A physical therapist who meets the requirements must maintain documentation regarding the successful completion of these requirements and shall provide the documentation upon request by the Board.

Standards of Practice

Dry needling in areas where there is a risk of pneumothorax or where neurovascular compromise could be life-threatening, shall be included after the licensee has been formally educated and has had the opportunity to practice in lower risk areas.

Physical therapists performing dry needling in their practice must have written informed consent signed by each patient for whom dry needling is provided. A copy of the signed consent form shall be available to the patient upon request. The written informed consent must include risks and benefits of dry needling, including the risk of pneumothorax, neurovascular compromise, and infection.

When dry needling is performed, documentation must include a description of the technique, tissues treated, and post treatment assessment.

Dry needling must be performed in a manner consistent with generally accepted standards of practice, including clean needle technique, use of gloves, and safe needle and biohazardous waste disposal.

Dry needling shall not be delegated and must be directly performed by a qualified, physical therapist including needle removal and post treatment assessment.

Physical therapist assistants may not perform dry needling.


4 CCR 732-1.2

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