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Dry Needling – What to know?

Dry Needling is a highly effective modality used in Physical Therapy for the treatment of a multitude of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions. It is not appropriate for all conditions or pathologies and the use of the technique will be at the discretion of your physical therapist.

How does it work?

Dry needling is not acupuncture (traditional Chinese medicine); it is based on neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. It is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points,
muscular, and connective tissues. Dry needling works by causing a microlesion within the pathological tissue thus breaking up shortened tissues, inhibiting a reflex arc from the nervous system to the tissue, normalizing the inflammatory response, and centrally mediating the pain. This mechanical and
neuromuscular effect provides an environment that enhances the body’s ability to heal which ultimately reduces pain.

What conditions can be treated with Dry Needling?

Conditions include, but are not limited to neck, back, and shoulder pain, arm pain (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, golfer’s elbow), headache to include migraines and tension-type headaches, jaw pain/TMJD, buttock pain and leg pain (sciatica, hamstring strain, calf tightness/spasms), tissue specific lesions, tendinopathies (chronic/acute).

Are the needles sterile?

Yes, we only use new sterile disposable needles. We practice CDC/OSHA blood pathogen guidelines.

Is Dry Needling painful?

The fine filament needle is very thin, solid, and flexible, which allows for the needle to be pushed through the skin versus cutting the skin. This helps reduce any discomfort that may occur with the procedure. At times a local twitch response of the muscle may be felt. When the needle is inserted into the pathological tissue the local twitch response sensation is normal and is felt only momentarily. Many patients describe the twitch response as a little electric shock, cramp, or achy sensation. These sensations are perfectly normal and even a desirable response. Your PT will make every effort to make your experience comfortable and therapeutic.

How will I feel after the Dry Needling treatment?

This will vary but many patients experience immediate relief of their symptoms and an increase in range of motion. Soreness can also be a common response from the needling but does not occur with all people. Some individuals may experience an immediate achiness or a delayed soreness the next day. The soreness, if present, will usually last 1-2 days, use of light massage and movement will be beneficial. Mild bruising may occur at the needling sites and is more prevalent in certain parts of the body. Larger bruising may also occur, but is rare. Skin discoloration can last several days but is not harmful. It is
uncommon, but possible, that the treatment may temporarily increase your symptoms. This is not unusual, but if this continues past the 1-2 day window, inform your PT to allow adjustment of your program to enhance your comfort the next time. This does not mean the needling will not be beneficial to your condition.

Will I continue to do exercises or receive other treatments with Dry Needling?

We highly recommend that you work with your PT towards a personalized program that may include manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, endurance training, and stabilization and posture training to meet your specific needs. It is likely you will also receive other physical therapy services with dry needling.

How many Dry Needling treatments will I need?

This will depend on the category you fit in, which is determined by the state of the injury and your overall health. Remember we are attempting to cause mechanical and biochemical changes without any pharmacological means. Therefore, we are looking for a cumulative response to break the pain cycle.
Your PT will be able to give you more insight after your evaluation.

What should/can I do after Dry Needling, what should I avoid?

Our recommendations vary depending on the amount of soreness you have and on the individual response to the treatment. Recommendations may include increasing your water intake, gentle stretches, and modifications of activities

by, Elyse Harrop, PT

Request an Appointment with a physical therapist who can include dry needling in your session.