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Foundations in Dry Needling for Upper Extremity Orthopedic Rehab

Course Description:

In this 25-hour lab-based course, the clinician will learn a diagnosis-focused approach to dry needling the upper extremity. The clinician will learn fundamental skills necessary for safe and proper needle insertion and removal, as well as effective strategies to manage commonly encountered pathologies in the upper extremity. Common pathologies encountered in an outpatient setting will be discussed. Safety considerations are emphasized. Current science and research will be presented, along with a vast amount of clinical experience and pearls, allowing immediate application of dry needling into the clinicians’ professional practice. The use of intramuscular electrical stimulation will also be discussed, demonstrated and practiced in class.

**Attendance Policy – Prior to registering for the course, make sure you are able to attend the entire weekend. Exceptions to this rule will not be allowed. For more details, please see the cancellation and attendance policy.

Areas of the body to be covered in class include:

  • Upper extremity
    • Shoulder- Rotator cuff pathology, labral tears, adhesive capsulitis, thoracic outlet
    • Elbow- Medial and lateral epicondylitis, UCL tears, posterior impingement
    • Wrist & Hand- Carpal tunnel syndrome, TFCC pathology, Flexor Carpi Ulnaris, DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, Hook of Hamate pathology, PIP contracture, CMC arthrosis
    • Other- Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, Scarring, edema/effusion, upper extremity nerve entrapments, post- surgical strategies
  • Cervical spine (C2-C7)

Upon course completion, the clinician will:

  • Adhere to safe needling techniques, including universal precautions and blood borne pathogen education per the CDC and/or OSHA given a specific case study.
  • Integrate surface anatomy palpation and layered anatomy application for safety considerations when inserting a dry needle into a patient given a specific case study.
  • List contraindications and precautions for dry needling and intramuscular electrical stimulation application.
  • Master application of dry needling techniques for common upper extremity pathologies given a specific case study.
  • Master application of intramuscular electrical stimulation for the common upper extremity pathologies given a specific case study.
  • Given a specific case study, correctly integrate dry needling and intramuscular electrical stimulation into the overall treatment program.
  • Pass a written and practical exam


Professionals who may take this course include:

  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical Therapists possessing the CHT credential
  • Medical Doctors with an upper extremity focused practice*
  • Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine with an upper extremity focused practice*
  • Physician Assistants with an upper extremity focused practice*
  • Registered Nurses with an upper extremity focused practice*
  • Nurse Practitioners with an upper extremity focused practice*
  • If you do not see your healthcare profession listed, or practice outside of the United States, please contact us for more information.

*NOTE: If you have a total body practice in any way, we suggest you take the Foundations in Dry Needling for Orthopedic Rehab and Sport Performance.

Required Reading:

  1. Physiologic Effects of Dry Needling. Barbara Cagnie
    • Cagnie, B, Dewitte, V, Barbe, T, Timmermans, F, Delrue, N, and Meeus, M. Physiologic Effects of Dry Needling. Curr Pain Headache Rep 17, 2013
  2. Dry needling: a lit review with implications for clinical practice. James Dunning
    • Dunning J, Butts R, Mourad F, Young I, Flannagan S, Perreault T. Dry needling: a literature review with implications for clinical practice guidelines1. Phys Ther Rev. 2014;19(4):252-265.
  3. Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture: The Ongoing Debate. Kehua Zhou
    • Zhou K, Ma Y, Brogan MS. Dry needling versus acupuncture: the ongoing debate. Acupunct Med J Br Med Acupunct Soc. November 2015. doi:10.1136/acupmed-2015-010911.

Suggested Reading:

  1. Stecco, L. Fascial Manipulation for Musculoskeletal Pain. Picin: Padova, IT;. 2004.
  2. Dung, H. Acupuncture: An Anatomical Approach. 2nd Edition. CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL; 2014.
  3. Skirven, T. et al. Rehabilitation of the Hand and Upper Extremity. 6th Edition. Elsevier Science Health Science Div; 2011.

All supplies necessary for the course will be provided with the following exceptions:

  1. See the required course supply list below for details.
    1. Please bring a portable electrical stimulation unit, alligator clips, cupping set and anatomy reference with you to the course
    2. Extras are available for use, but supplies are limited and may not be available for your immediate use. Therefore, it is recommended you bring these items with you
  2. If you have a latex allergy, it is recommended for you to bring your own gloves for use during lab. A latex free option is available for use, but supplies are limited based on the number of people with an allergy. Therefore, it is recommended to bring a box of latex free gloves with you for use.

Course Supplies Requirements:

  1. An anatomy reference
    1. Human Anatomy Atlas for iPad/ iPhone/ Android- $24.99 App Store
    1. The following are recommended but not required:
      1. Trail Guide to the Body 5th Edition. $49
      2. Palpation Techniques: Surface Anatomy for Physical Therapists- $85.95
  2. Portable TENS Unit. The following is recommended. Links open in a new window.
    1. Analog 250 TENS unit
    2. Alligator Clips

You will receive an email prior to the course you register for with the following information:

  1. Any course specific instructions such as location reminder, parking instructions etc.
  2. Log-in information and instructions for the online education platform 
    1. This log in information will allow you to access power points, class forums, helpful forms, etc
    2. Please be sure to log in successfully to online education platform prior to class

 For more information on CEU approval, please click here

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