Dry Needling (DN) is a specialized treatment technique used by Physical Therapists to help improve soft tissue health. Soft tissues that benefit from DN treatments include Muscles, Tendons, Ligaments, Fascia and Nerves.
What is Dry Needling?
DN is the use of fine filament needles that are inserted into soft tissues to help them boost their natural ability to heal and improve overall function. These needles are very thin in nature and are not filled with any medications or injections…thus the word “dry.” As physical therapists, we use these needles with a Western Medicine approach and aim to improve human body movement and function and to reduce pain and inflammation. There are a wide variety of techniques within the Dry Needling treatment umbrella and depending on the practitioner and patient, you may experience a variety of these within your treatment. Some of the most common techniques practiced during DN include, pistoning, winding, setting and electrical stimulation. Each technique offers a unique experience of healing and your practitioner will be able to help identify which combinations are best for you!
What Can Dry Needling Help With?
Dry Needling can help heal Musculoskeletal and Nerve related injury and pain in the body. Again, we are talking about healing soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Two of the most common and effective treatments that DN can help with are, Trigger Point Release & Myofascial Release. During both of these pathologies, a dry needle is inserted directly into an active, painful trigger point or restricted fascial area, and then works to create a local inflammatory response. This series of events stimulates healing, releases the myofascial tension, and promotes optimal connection between the nervous system and local muscle being treated. We call this “resetting the system!”
BENEFITS OF DRY NEEDLING:
A FEW COMMON CONDITIONS TREATED:
What Can I Expect During Treatment?
Everyone’s body experiences interventions differently, but most patients would describe Dry Needling as being “not so bad!” Many patients associate needle treatments with medical injections (shots), but because these needles are much thinner needles and are dry, the insertion of the needle is typically much more comfortable than a medical injection via syringe.
When a dry needle is inserted into a soft tissue, one can expect to feel a muscle ache and/or a muscle twitch. These are good signs that the treatment is working! When a muscle or other soft tissue is not functioning it’s best, it will build up toxins and tension within it. The dry needle will help release these toxins and tension, producing a localized inflammatory response, which then produces the muscle ache and twitch sensations. If this occurs, it means we are working in the right area! Most would not describe DN as feeling “painful,” but because the soft tissues are not working properly, the treatment can feel slightly uncomfortable. However, the healthier your tissues get, the less uncomfortable treatment feels. A healthy tissue should not produce any ache or discomfort.
Most Dry Needling treatments last just a few minutes, but sometimes a practitioner may opt to allow your needles to sit for a longer period of time (up to 10-20 minutes), depending on your body’s needs.
One of the most miraculous benefits of Dry Needling is the “Neuromuscular Reset.” Both the patient and clinician can see an improvement in the connection between the nerve and muscle by monitoring the muscle’s contraction quality when applied to Electrical Stimulation (often called “Estim” or “Stim” for short). This is like hitting the reset button on the neuromuscular system. Allowing the muscle and nervous system a fresh start to work from again.
What Can I Expect After Treatment?
Patients often experience short term benefits within a single session. Every patient and condition is different, but some of these immediate benefits may include pain relief, improved movement, alleviation of painful trigger points, improved muscle activation and improved sensation.
Patients are often amazed by how quickly their body can overcome chronic tension, pain and injury within just a few visits. We always recommend specific exercises after treatment to help continue the healing process and seek optimal, long term benefits. The DN treatment is simply a stepping stone to help get your body reset and ready for healing! What you do outside of the office and outside of treatment is what matters most.
What are the Risks of Dry Needling?
As with any medical intervention, there are always both risks and benefits involved. Physical therapists that have been certified in Dry Needling have undergone extensive training and education to be qualified to perform this technique. As a healthcare practitioner, your safety is our top priority! Our knowledge and skill set will provide you with the most extensive care and safety while undergoing treatment.
Possible Minor Adverse Effects:
Possible Serious Adverse Effects:
How is Dry Needling different from Acupuncture?
This is a great question, because they are very different techniques and philosophies. The Dry Needling technique is based on a Western Medicine practice and Acupuncture is based on an Eastern Medicine practice. As physical therapists, we utilize dry needles to help improve muscle and nerve pain, quality of human body movement, and overall function of soft tissues. Acupuncturists can also significantly help patients heal their bodies and reduce pain, however their approach and technique will look and feel very different. A good way to look at this is that both Dry Needling and Acupuncture practitioners utilize the same needle tool to help people improve their body’s health and wellness. However, the specific training, experience, philosophy and usage of this shared tool is very different. There are benefits to both Dry Needling and Acupuncture practices! I encourage you to try both for yourself and experience the benefits of each.
How do I know if Dry Needling is right for me?
If you are struggling with muscle or nerve pain, experiencing significant tension within your body, or are having trouble overcoming chronic pain or injury, Dry Needling may be right for you! We love to perform DN in combination with other treatment modalities and work alongside other health practitioners. If you want to learn more about how Dry Needling may be able to help your body, CLICK HERE to schedule your Free Discovery Call with us today!