What is Dry Needling?
Trigger point dry needling is an intervention used to treat myofascial pain and associated impairments through the use of insertion of a thin filiform needle into a trigger point through skin penetration (a trigger point is a taut band of skeletal muscle that can be tender to the touch and refer pain to other parts of the body).
How is it Helpful?
This technique aids in the release of trigger points which are associated with pain relief and improves range of motion and function. While this is used as only one tool in our tool box, evidence supports that it can increase recovery dramatically, which means you can spend less time and money on getting back to your active, pain free life. Dry needling is an adjunct to manual therapy and is not typically used alone. DN is best used with a focus on manual therapy and exercise to aid and speed up the healing process as it improves tissue healing and decreasing neurological pain.
What are the Side Effects?
This is a frequently asked question. Since pain is very subjective, it's a hard question to answer. The needle itself is not a pain source; however, the trigger point we will be working on is tender and some discomfort may be experienced but only for a brief moment. Referred pain, pain that radiates up or down in the area, is indication that we found the right point to release the irritation and taut band.
24-48 hours of soreness in the region that was needled may be expected. The soreness is similar to a post exercise soreness since we are causing a twitch response in the muscle in order to release it. We may use electric to assist with healing speed and neurological pain reduction. Modalities of heat/ice are not always indicated. In most cases, clients feel immediate reduction in pain, but at times this process may take a few sessions for significant pain reduction. Range of motion and function typically improve immediately which is the reason I like to give my clients proper exercises following the needling session to get a full advantage of their newly gained range and functional ability.
The use of this techniques is sterile. Needles are sterile and fresh for each insertion. We practice proper disposal after each use, and they are never reused.
How is it different than Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique for balancing the flow of energy of life force- known as chi or qi. It is believed that by inserting needles into specific points along the meridians, your energy flow will re-balance. Dry needling is an orthopedic approach that is looking at releasing trigger points that are hindering our ability to properly activate our muscles and causing pain and dysfunction. We are not trained in Chinese Medicine and are not using the same concepts.