What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a specific clinical technique used to treat myofascial (muscular) pain. The technique uses a “dry” needle, one without medication or injection, inserted through the skin into painful areas of a muscle.
How Does Dry Needling Work?
Commonly soft tissue dysfunctions are due to inflammation, irritated nerve tissue, scar tissue formation, tissue adhesion, or deficiency in blood or lymphatic circulation. The insertion of the needle into the area of dysfunction causes a physical stretching of the tissue, which helps reduce tension and normalize inflammation. There has also been some preliminary research that has shown an increase in endorphin release which can help to block pain signals being transmitted to the brain.
Dry Needling Vs. Acupuncture
Dry needling is not to be confused with acupuncture. Acupuncture is part of ancient Chinese medicine based on Chinese philosophy and clinical experience to treat human disease. To practice acupuncture, practitioners must finish 3-4 years of schooling including the philosophy and disease classification of Chinese medicine. Dry needling is based on modern medical science including human anatomy, physiology, pathology, neurology, kinesiology, biomechanics and musculoskeletal dysfunction. Dry needling is usually performed by a physical therapist, chiropractor, or physician who has completed the required training.
Does it hurt?
A filament needle is extremely thin, solid, and flexible which allows the needle to push through the skin rather than cut the skin. At times the needle may cause a local twitch response which is normal and felt only momentarily. Many patients describe the twitch as a small shock, cramp, or ache felt in the tissue. These responses are normal and often desirable depending on the tissue.
How will I feel after?
This is, of course, variable, however some patients experience immediate relief and increase in range of motion. Soreness is also a common response, however is not felt in all patients. Delayed soreness/achiness can be experienced which can usually be managed with movement and stretching of the affected area.
Can I exercise after?
Dry needling is used in conjunction with other PT interventions. You can expect to participate in a full PT session and activity will not be limited afterwards.
How long does it take?
Needling can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes depending on the area of involvement, the severity of the condition, and the desired outcome. It will be integrated into a typical one-hour PT session