Dry Needling Curricula in Entry-Level Education Programs in the United States for Physical Therapists


Physical Therapy

Document Type


Publication Source

Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy. Epub ahead of print.

Publication Date



Objectives: The objective of this paper was to determine the extent to which dry needling is instructed in entry-level education programs for physical therapists.

Methods: Program directors from 226 entry-level education programs recognized by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education were recruited via e-mail to participate in an anonymous 35-item electronic survey during the 2017-2018 academic year. The survey evaluated dry needling curricula, faculty qualifications, attitudes and experience, and programs' future plans for teaching dry needling.

Results: A total of 75 programs responded to the survey (response rate = 33.1%). Forty (53.3%) had integrated dry needling theory and psychomotor training into their programs and 8 (10.6%) planned to include such content in their curriculum in the future. Of the 40 respondents, 28 indicated that dry needling education was integrated into a required course, 4 indicated that dry needling was an elective course, and 8 did not specify how dry needling education was integrated. Faculty teaching dry needling appear to be well qualified, with the majority having 5-10 years of experience using dry needling in clinical practice. The primary reason for programs not teaching dry needling is that it was not considered an entry-level skill.

Discussion: There appeared to be variability in how dry needling was integrated into the curricula, as well as in the depth and breadth of instruction. Our research may serve as a baseline for faculty to assess existing dry needling curricula and as a guide for developing curricula in new or existing physical therapy programs.


Dry needling, neuromusculoskeletal disorders, entry-level education, physical therapy