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Illinois Physical Therapy Dry Needling

How does Illinois PT Board define dry needling?

"Dry needling", also known as intramuscular therapy, means an advanced needling skill or technique limited to the treatment of myofascial pain, using a single use, single insertion, sterile filiform needle (without the use of heat, cold, or any other added modality or medication), that is inserted into the skin or underlying tissues to stimulate trigger points. Dry needling may apply theory based only upon Western medical concepts, requires an examination and diagnosis, and treats specific anatomic entities selected according to physical signs. Dry needling does not include the stimulation of auricular points, utilization of distal points or non-local points, needle retention, application of retained electric stimulation leads, or the teaching or application of other acupuncture theory.

What are the education requirements for practicing dry needling?

Course Work Requirements 

Successful completion of fifty (50) hours of instruction in the following areas:

  • The musculoskeletal and neuromuscular system;
  • The anatomical basis of pain mechanisms, chronic pain, and referred pain;
  • Myofascial trigger point theory; and
  • Universal precautions.

Completion of at least thirty (30) hours of didactic course work specific to dry needling.

Successful completion of at least fifty-four (54) practicum hours in dry needling course work approved by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy or its successor (or substantial equivalent), as determined by the Department. Each instructional course shall specify what anatomical regions are included in the instruction and describe whether the course offers introductory or advanced instruction in dry needling. Each instruction course shall include the following areas:

  • Dry needling technique;
  • Dry needling indications and contraindications;
  • Documentation of dry needling;
  • Management of adverse effects;
  • Practical psychomotor competency; and
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Bloodborne Pathogens standard.

Standards for Postgraduate Courses

Postgraduate classes qualifying for completion of the mandated fifty-four (54) hours of dry needling shall be in one or more modules, with the initial module being no fewer than twenty-seven (27) hours, and therapists shall complete at least fifty-four (54) hours in no more than twelve (12) months.

Supervised Treatment Sessions

Completion of at least 200 patient treatment sessions under supervision as determined by the Department by rule.

Competency Examination

Successful completion of a competency examination as approved by the Department.

Are there specific rules for practicing dry needling?

Record Maintenance

Each licensee is responsible for maintaining records of the completion of the requirements and shall be prepared to produce such records upon request by the Department.

New Therapists

A newly-licensed physical therapist shall not practice dry needling for at least one (1) year from the date of initial licensure unless the practitioner can demonstrate compliance through his or her pre-licensure educational coursework.


Dry needling may only be performed by a licensed physical therapist and may not be delegated to a physical therapist assistant or support personnel.


A physical therapist shall not advertise, describe to patients or the public, or otherwise represent that dry needling is acupuncture, nor shall he or she represent that he or she practices acupuncture unless separately licensed under the Acupuncture Practice Act.


225 ILCS 90/1.5

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