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Dry needling technique includes the use of a small needle inserted into specific areas of soft tissue dysfunction (“trigger points”) to achieve improved relaxation and functional movement. The technique was in many ways conceptualized by a physician in 1979 when he performed research with use of needles without medication. He found similar results whether or not he used medication resulting in the term “dry needling”. He later adopted use of monofilament needles which are the same as those used with traditional Eastern acupuncture.
Who can benefit?
Patients with any musculoskeletal condition can benefit. Many people have had success with issues they have struggled with for decades. Possible areas include:
- Low back pain, neck pain, and thoracic pain
- Headaches and migraines
- Plantar fasciitis
- SIJ dysfunction
- Patellofemoral pain
- Hip flexor tendinitis (common in runners)
- Shin splints
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Elbow tendinitis (tennis elbow or golfers elbow)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Bell’s palsy or facial muscle weakness
- Peripheral neuropathy
…and many other musculoskeletal issues
How does it work?
The primary objective of dry needling is to relieve pain by releasing “trigger points” in muscles. When you have a trigger point or a “knot” in a muscle, a chemical (acetylcholine) builds up around that area. Insertion of the needle into that muscle releases that chemical causing a small muscle contraction. This is often perceived as a twitch in the muscle.
Beyond that there are numerous, even more powerful benefits that include release of opiates and Cox-2 inhibitors both locally where the needle is placed and at the spinal cord. These are very similar chemicals to those prescribed by a physician – only much safer as they are produced by one’s own body. Patients with chronic or acute headaches or shooting pain (radiculopathy or sciatica) respond particularly wells as the nervous system adapts to these changes induced by the technique. Dry needling can also regulate inflammation, increase local blood flow, and even boost your immune system. Patients with arthritis experience a particular benefit from increased blood flow and regulation of inflammation.
How long is a treatment session?
Treatment times can be only a few minutes but normally range between 8-30 minutes.
What are the risks?
Major injury is extremely rare beyond localized soreness. Some patients have small areas that bleed, generally for less than a few seconds and may have some very minor bruising. Isolated cases of a pneumothorax (puncturing the lungs) have been reported. This is extremely rare.
How is dry needling different from acupuncture?
With dry needling, there is no attempt to manipulate energy or chi to treat along traditional Eastern meridians. Physical therapy treatment is effective for musculoskeletal pain and does not extend to other conditions that acupuncturists aim to treat (such as inducing labor, sinus issues, etc.).
Schedule today with a Certified Dry Needling therapist