Dry needling is a manual therapy used by physical therapists, physicians, and chiropractors to help relieve pain and treat chronic muscle tension. It is often used in conjunction with other treatments such as exercise, massage, and manipulation – with several different techniques depending on the goal of the treatment.
This process works by first inserting a thin filiform needle into tense muscles; most people feel a brief stinging sensation at the time of insertion. The needle then causes a micro injury to the surface of the muscle, activating the natural pathways for healing and relaxation.
Conditions Treated by Dry Needling
This slightly invasive treatment has been shown to be effective for many conditions, including:
- Shin splints
- Plantar fasciitis
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Myofascial trigger points
- Headaches and migraines
What Are the Risks?
Although rare, dry needling is not without risks. There is a risk of infection, bleeding, and nerve damage. The risk of infection can be reduced by using sterile needles, wearing gloves while performing the procedure, and disinfecting the skin with an antiseptic or alcohol before the injection. These complications may be minimized further when an experienced practitioner performs the treatment.
What Are the Benefits?
The main goal of this treatment is to promote healing and increase blood circulation. Other benefits include:
- Decreased muscle pain and soreness
- Reduced muscle tension
- Normalized biochemical and electrical dysfunction of motor endplates
- Increased flexibility
- Decreased pain
The high success rate of dry needling is because it works on both nerve-based and non-nerve-based conditions. Nerve-based strategies are designed to target any issues with nerves or nerve fibers. Non-nerve-based techniques are designed to address muscle pain and spasm without addressing the cause of the symptoms. Dry needling is beneficial for both acute and chronic pain, as well as injuries that don't have a known cause, such as shin splints or plantar fasciitis. Overall, it’s a very useful treatment option for many people experiencing localized pain or tension.
Dry Needling Techniques
There are a handful of techniques that can be used depending on the type of pain, its location, and the collaborative goal you and your physical therapist are working to achieve. Different methods of dry needling treatment include:
Trigger points are spots of knotted muscle tissue that are sensitive to touch. This type of dry needling is good for headaches and pain in the neck or back. The length of the needle will be dependent on the targeted muscle’s depth and size, as well as other risk factors.
This method is a common approach for physical therapists but differs in that the shorter needles are inserted just a few millimeters into the skin. By targeting the sensorimotor system, the needle changes the motor input, leading to a change in output, significantly reducing pain.
Deep dry needling is good for those with spinal related pain, using a longer needle to access the muscle causing pain. This treatment is helpful in relieving pain in the hip by getting deep into the glute muscles.
Intramuscular electrical stimulation is a combination of dry needling and TENS currents. This technique maximizes results and pain relief. It is great for those with chronic pain and helps stimulate blood circulation and smooth muscle fibers.
Dry Needling at Professional Therapy Solutions
At Professional Therapy Solutions, we understand that all pain is not the same, so all treatment plans should not be the same. If you would like to see if dry needling can help you, call our office at (601) 898-1828 or request an appointment online to begin working with one of our expert physical therapists.