What is Dry Needling?
Dry Needling is a technique used to eliminate your pain and allow you to move better. It involves the use of a “dry” needle, one without medication or injection, inserted through the skin to stimulate underlying trigger points in muscles and connective tissues.
What is a Trigger Point?
A trigger point is commonly referred to as a “muscle knot.” It is a tight band of muscle located within a larger muscle group. Trigger points are typically tender to the touch and touching a trigger point can cause pain to other parts of the body.
What Are Dry Needling Benefits?
Physical therapists use dry needling to release trigger points to relieve pain or improve range of motion. Research shows that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, and can help speed up the patient’s return to active rehabilitation.
Is It Safe?
Yes! Physical therapists wear gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when dry needling to prevent infection. The sterile needles are disposed of in a medical sharps collector.
Does It Hurt?
Dry Needling uses very thin filiform needles. In most cases the initial feeling of the needle entering through the skin is very minimal; much less than a vaccination or having blood drawn. Sometimes it is not felt at all, depending on the patient and the location of the needle.
For some patients, it will recreate similar pain symptoms for the condition the patient has – with the goal to get relief long term. The location of the injury affects the amount of pain experienced, but it usually manifests in two ways:
As the needle is inserted through the skin into the muscle, a patient will either report that they can feel some recreation of “their” pain and they feel an ache. Some patients report they don’t feel anything.
The ache is usually followed by a twitch response, where the muscle will jump reactively. The twitch sensation feels more like a deep cramp and doesn’t last long (15-30 seconds). Then release will occur.
Electrical stimulation can be applied to the needles to bring even more blood flow to the tissues and relax the muscle tissue.
On some occasions, patients report an immediate relief of their pain and spasm. More often it takes 2-3 days to reach the full benefit from needling. Pain will subside. The ability to reach overhead, get up from a chair or sleep through the night will ultimately improve.
Does Dry Needling Work?
Yes! Research indicates dry needling is a safe and effective approach for treating and managing pain.