Dry Needling involves the insertion of a thin filament needle to stimulate the healing process of soft tissues (muscle “trigger points”, fascia, tendons and ligaments, etc.) resulting in pain relief and restoration of healthy physiology. Research supports that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, normalizes biochemical and electrical dysfunction of motor endplates, and facilitates an accelerated return to active rehabilitation.
Trigger Point Release
Dry needling involves multiple advances of a filament needle into the muscle in the region of a “trigger point”. The aim of Dry Needling is to achieve a local twitch response to release muscle tension and pain. Dry needling is an effective treatment for chronic pain of neuropathic origin with very few side effects.
This technique is unequaled in finding and eliminating neuromuscular dysfunction that leads to pain and functional deficits. The needle used is very thin and most subjects do not even feel it penetrate the skin. A healthy muscle feels very little discomfort with insertion of this needle. However, if the muscle is sensitive and shortened, or had active trigger points within it, the subject will feel a sensation like a muscle cramp- “the twitch response”. The patient also may feel a reproduction of “their pain”, which is a helpful diagnostic indicator for the practitioner attempting to diagnose the cause of the patient’s symptoms. Patients soon learn to recognize and even welcome this sensation as it results in deactivating the trigger point, reducing pain and restoring normal length function to the involved muscle.
What is a “trigger point”?
A myofascial “trigger point” is a hyperirritable point in the skeletal muscle that his associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule, or “knot”. This area becomes painful at the site and can also “radiate” in predictable patterns.
What is the difference between Dry Needling and Acupuncture?
The objective and philosophy behind the use of dry needling by physical therapists is not based on ancient theories or tenets of traditional Chinese medicine. The performance of modern dry needling by physical therapists is based on western neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.
**Both Dry Needling and Acupuncture do, however, use the same tool, a solid needle filament.
Does it hurt?
Generally, the insertion of the needle is not felt. The local “twitch response” may provoke a brief pain sensation that has been described as a tingling, aching, or cramping sensation.
Who can benefit from Dry Needling?
A variety of musculoskeletal problems including but not limited to: acute/chronic injuries, headaches, neck/back pain, tendonitis, muscle spasms, “sciatica”, hip/knee/calf pain, shoulder pain, muscle strains, fibromyalgia, “tennis/golfer’s elbow”, patello-femoral pain syndrome, overuse injuries, etc.
Are there any side effects to Dry Needling?
Side effects may vary among individuals. Typically, only mild muscle soreness or skin bruising.
Is Dry Needling covered by my health insurance?
In some cases, Dry Needling is covered by insurance, but it varies; often it is a fee or cash-based service provided only by a licensed Physical Therapist. There is a $25.00 fee for the supplies.
**If interested, ask your PT if Dry Needling would be a beneficial addition to your rehab program.