Dry needling is a technique that a physical therapist uses for the treatment of pain and movement impairments. The technique uses a “dry” needle, one without medication or injection, inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle.
Other terms commonly used to describe dry needling, include trigger point dry needling and intramuscular manual therapy.
Dry needling is not acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists. Dry needling is a part of modern Western medicine principles and supported by research.
A trigger point is a taut band of skeletal muscle located within a larger muscle group. Trigger points can be tender to the touch and touching a trigger point may cause pain to other parts of the body.
Dry needling involves a thin filiform needle that penetrates the skin and stimulates underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular and connective tissues. The needle allows a physical therapist to target tissues that are not manually palpable.
Physical therapists uses appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when dry needling, along with Standard Precautions, Guide to Infection Prevention for Outpatient Settings and OSHA standards. The sterile needles are disposed of in a medical sharps collector.
In cases when dry needling is used by physical therapists, it is typically one technique that is part of a larger treatment plan.
Physical therapists use dry needling with the goal of releasing or inactivating trigger points to relieve pain or improve range of motion. Preliminary research supports that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension and normalizes dysfunctions of the motor end plates, the sites at which nerve impulses are transmitted to muscles. This can help speed up the patient’s return to active rehabilitation.
As part of their entry level education, physical therapists are well educated in anatomy and therapeutic treatment of the body.
Dry Needling can be used for a variety of musculoskeletal problems. When combined with traditional physical therapy and the advanced manual therapy techniques, our physical therapist have had success treating most pain related problems from head to toe and from acute to chronic conditions.
Also Dry Needling can be used to help athletes overcome delayed onset muscle soreness. As athletes push the envelope to become bigger and faster or to reach new goals, recovery becomes an essential phase in the process.
Many a times dry needling can be used to speed up this recovery time and allow the athlete to return to training or to playing as soon as possible.
For most people there is little to no discomfort with the insertion of the needle. We strive to make the treatment virtually painless however, at times, you may experience a “twitch response” which often feels like a quick muscle cramp or ache. These sensations are normal and even desirable at times. Following this technique muscle soreness can be felt up to 24-48 hours. The application of heat or ice and drinking plenty of fluids usually reduces the soreness.
Dry Needling is a powerful treatment technique that when in used with conjunction with our other physical therapy treatments, can help you relieve your pain and improve your function quickly.