If you have suffered an injury, in pain from an old injury, or just dealing with chronic discomfort, the suggestion for dry needling might have come up. This is a fairly new treatment that has been gaining in popularity in the past few years. Before you run to the computer to do an online search for dry needling in Wyoming or Nebraska
, let’s take a look at the history of dry needling and what it might be able to do for you.
The History Dry Needling
The discovery of dry needling dates back to the 1940s when a doctor by the name of Janet Travell identified muscular trigger points and patterns on the body. She along with another doctor, David Simon, created the first generation of what is known today as dry needling.
The American Physical Therapy Association defines dry needling as a skilled intervention that uses needles to penetrate the skin to stimulate underlying trigger points for pain and movement impairment management.
The treatment uses small, solid needles inserted into the body. The purpose is to stimulate tissue and release tight muscles. It can also be used to help lessen pain. Dry needling is a growing trend being used by professional athletes as well as weekend warriors.
Dry Needling Versus Acupuncture
You might be asking yourself, what is the difference between dry needling and acupuncture. Because the two use needles, they might sound very similar. The truth is, although there is a commonality with both using needles, there is a big difference in both method and approach between the two.
is used to treat the muscles after a physical examination has been conducted. Treatment is based on where the patient is feeling pain as well as other areas that the physical therapist determines after conducting an examination and assessment.
When undergoing dry needling, the physical therapist inserts needles into the body slowly. They are moved around and manipulated—gently—to get a response from the muscle and usually removed almost immediately afterward. This process might be repeated over and over again, depending on the situation.
is a technique for balancing the flow of energy. When acupuncturists insert needles into specific points of the body, they are looking to balance energy flow. In acupuncture, the needles are frequently left in the body for a specific amount of time, with the acupuncturist often leaving the patient for a while.
Who Performs Dry Needling?
Most states regulate dry needling so it is performed only by a physical therapist or doctor of physical therapy who has been specially trained. At Peak Physical Therapy and Wellness, a certified physical therapist will perform dry needling. A massage therapist does not perform dry needling although massage too deals with trigger points in the body.
Conditions That Can Be Treated With Dry Needling
Dry needling can relieve a variety of musculoskeletal problems. It is relaxing and therapeutic procedure that is suitable for many different conditions, such as back and neck pain, sporting injuries, and discomfort that is a result of poor posture.
If you are suffering from any of the following conditions, you might inquire about dry needling to find out whether it can help you:
Does Dry Needling Hurt?
- Athletic performance
- Back pain
- Chronic pain
- Golfer's elbow
- IT band syndrome
- Knee pain
- Piriformis syndrome
- Plantar fasciitis
- Tennis elbow
For the vast majority of people, dry needling does not hurt. In fact, most people don’t even feel the needles being inserted. Although the needle is moved and manipulated in order to engage a response from the muscle, the feeling that ensues is more of an ache or cramping sensation rather than pain.
Side Effects of Dry Needling
It probably comes as no surprise that there can be side effects to dry needling, but these will vary depending on the individual. Some people report some needle soreness that might last for a day or so after treatment. In very few patients, there is some skin bruising at the needle sights, but this is somewhat rare and occurs in fewer than 5 percent of patients.
Just in case you are a bit sore after treatment, you might want to plan your schedule around that possibility to give yourself a few days to recover.
What to Expect During Your First Dry Needling Appointment
During your first session, our physical therapist will evaluate the areas where you are feeling pain, discomfort, or tightness. An examination will determine which muscles are tight or knotted. This is often performed by gently pressing on the areas as directed by the patient or by palpitating areas to determine if the muscle feels tight or knotted.
After locating the areas to be treated, the physical therapist will press a plastic tube containing a sterile needle against the skin, gently tapping it into place. There should be very little discomfort during this procedure; most patients barely feel anything.
As the needle is pressed deeper into the muscle tissue, there may be some discomfort. The physical therapist will then gently manipulate the needle to stimulate the muscle into twitching or cramping, loosening tight muscle fibers.
Many patients report feeling relief from pain after just one or two dry needling sessions.
If you have heard about dry needling yet you remain skeptical of its efficacy, you should consider that many professional athletes around the world are using this treatment to relieve muscle pain and disfunction. At North Platte Physical Therapy, we are always happy to answer your questions about any of our treatments, which in addition to dry needling include treatment for craniofacial and jaw pain, functional movement screening, hand therapy and splinting, injury risk assessment, and more. Contact us today to learn more!