Dry needling is a physical therapy technique used to treat pain and movement impairments. The technique uses the insertion of a thin, “dry” needle (one without medication or injection) into specific areas of soft tissue dysfunction (“trigger points”) to achieve improved relaxation and functional movement. This technique is used to treat different musculoskeletal conditions, such as neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, tennis elbow, headaches, knee pain, hip tendinopathies, and achilles tendinopathy.
Dry Needling is not acupuncture; it is based on modern Western medicine principles and targets muscles vs meridian. Our dry needling physical therapy specialist is highly educated and carefully trained.
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.
Trigger point dry needling helps to stimulate tissue healing for chronic conditions so that the affected muscle can become strong and healthy again. Studies have shown that post-needling tissues tend to be strengthened and muscle fibers become increasingly parallel. In addition, there are less inflammation in the painful area.
Needling is typically coupled with other forms of physical therapy as part of a larger treatment plan. Techniques used in conjunction with dry needling may include IASTYM, joint mobilization and exercise.
Dry needling can cause temporary pain and discomfort during and after a treatment session (usually 60-70% of patients). Depending on the treatment site, any pain experienced is usually mild in nature—typically lasting only 24 hours. Minor bleeding or bruising occurs in 15-20% of patients after a needling session. Isolated cases of pneumothorax (puncturing the lung) have been reported this is extremely rare (less than 0.01% of treatments).
Call us at (605) 348-2116 to schedule an appointment or to learn more about how dry needling can help you today.