Dry needling is becoming increasingly popular and with good reason. Its name may scare some people away, but its multiple benefits outweigh the alarming name.
Dry needling is sometimes also referred to as Trigger Point Dry Needling or Intramuscular Manual Therapy. It is a treatment for the muscular tightness and spasm which can follow injuries and sometimes accompanies the aging process. Joints affected by arthritis can cause irritation and muscles may tighten as a protective reaction. This muscular tightness and spasm can change the circulation of blood, causes chemical irritation of tissue and can even impact the nervous system causing nerves to be extra sensitive. When nerves are irritated, there can be a variety of symptoms including pain, tightness, loss of range of motion, loss of strength and ultimately an overall decrease in function.
Dry needling has been shown to be effective in the treatment of a number of diagnoses, such as carpel tunnel, tendonitis, osteoarthritis, sprains and strains, decreased mobility and chronic pain. When Physical Therapists use dry needling, thin filiform needles are inserted into the muscles. The tight muscles often have a “twitch” response where they contract and relax, improving flexibility of the muscle and decreasing symptoms. Scientific research has shown that there are immediate and lasting changes in the muscle’s electrical activity, chemical composition and mobility.
Dry needling is a technique that can often have immediate and lasting changes for patients!
Dry Needling is used to:
- Treat muscle spasms and tightness.
- Facilitate muscle relaxation.
- Create a healing response by increasing blood and nutrient flow to the affected area.
- Treat chronic and acute pain as well as repetitive stress injuries.
Currently, dry needling is offered at our Sunnyside, Star, Eagle Road and Nampa locations in Idaho as well as all of our clinics in North Dakota and Minnesota.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dry Needling
Q: Is dry needling the same as acupuncture?
A: This is probably the most often asked question. The simple answer is NO. Acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine principles and Eastern medical philosophies. Dry needling is based in Western medical principles of evaluation and diagnosis. Although the thin filiform needle is a common tool between the two groups that is where the similarities stop.
Q: Do the needles hurt?
A: This is a bit of a loaded question as pain experiences vary so much from person to person. Often we are treating an area that has been dysfunctional for a long time and it may be extra sensitive. We have patients that report they don’t feel anything and some folks will report some local soreness. The needles used in dry needling are significantly smaller than a needle you would get a shot with. You could fit 2-3 of the needles inside a typical hypodermic shot needle.
Q: Is dry needling safe?
A: This is an excellent question and should absolutely be asked by anyone undergoing any medical procedure! One of the reasons Physical Therapists are so excited about performing dry needling is how safe the procedures are. There is so much research on the safety of dry needling and when you compare dry needling to many other alternatives such as drugs for pain control it’s not even close. The most common side effect of dry needling is some lingering soreness in the area treated. Occasionally there may be a drop of blood and in rare cases a tiny amount of bruising. There are entire scientific papers written on the safety of dry needling compared to other treatments and we would be happy to share any of that info with anyone who requests it.
Q: Can I just do dry needling for my problem?
A: In our current culture there are so many folks looking for a quick fix. This is why the opioid epidemic is such a horrible issue right now. Our Physical Therapists will not do dry needling only for your rehabilitation. We know it’s only one part of a complex puzzle for many people. However, it can be a very powerful piece of that puzzle when used correctly for the right patient! We’ve absolutely know patients have the best outcome when they use a prescribed exercise program in conjunction with dry needling techniques.