A treatment method for muscular pain, dry needling is growing in popularity for patients. This type of treatment is part of a larger care plan for our patients. Our physical therapists recommend this approach as an adjunct to exercise to reduce pain and improve contractility of dysfunctional muscle.
Dry needling is not a stand-alone treatment, as recent research supports its use is combination with pain neuroscience education, graded exercise and manual therapy. Dry needling can be used to reduce muscle pain and tension by reducing the excitability of our nervous system. In turn, this helps patients return to active rehabilitation sooner and speeds up the path to recovery.
What is Dry Needling?
With the use of fine, filament needles, this method focuses on irritable muscle “knots” (trigger points) to relieve pain. It’s earned its name since the needles do not inject any fluid or medication into the body. The relief comes from the insertion of the needle stimulating and releasing trigger points in a muscle. On average, the needle will stay inserted anywhere between ten and thirty minutes.
Why Are Trigger Points Important?
Typically, dry needling targets trigger points, which are irritated muscle “knots” that develop within a muscle. This irritation can lead to widespread pain that makes everyday tasks difficult or limiting. Trigger points commonly develop in the neck, shoulder, and lower leg areas.
What Does Dry Needling Feel Like?
Trigger points can cause local and referred pain and sensations of tightness. When they’re stimulated by dry needles, patients will feel a twitching or cramping response as it’s released. Research has shown positive outcomes following a twitch response; however, a twitch is not necessary to achieve positive results. Patient typically experience pain relief within 24 hours of dry needling application, but results vary. It is common to experience bruising and soreness at the injection site after a treatment.
Are Dry Needling and Acupuncture the Same?
When comparing images of acupuncture and dry needling, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. Although they both use thin, stainless steel needles, they have different goals. Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese alternative practice is used to target a person’s spiritual, physical, and mental ailments. It focuses on the meridian, the body’s “energy highway.” Dry needling, on the other hand, helps relieve pain by targeting the neuromusculoskeletal system via trigger and paravertebral points.
Which Patients Benefit from Dry Needling?
For patients suffering from muscular problems and pain, dry needling can help get them on the road to recovery. The following are just a few of the ailments that this technique can improve:
- Neck and back pain
- Hip and knee pain
- Muscle spasms
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Tennis or Golf Elbow
- Frozen Shoulder
- Acute and chronic injuries
- Athletic and overuse injuries
Dry Needling at PT Solutions
Our physical therapists evaluate patients and their injuries to determine if dry needling is an appropriate treatment. This technique will always be used in combination with other evidence-based treatments, such as exercises and manual therapy. By combining multiple treatment strategies, we create a care plan that will lead to the most effective and successful outcomes for our patients. At PT Solutions, we want to help you get better, and stay better.
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