Dry Needling is a general term for a therapeutic treatment procedure that involves multiple advances of a filament needle into the muscle in the area of the body that radiates musculoskeletal pain and typically contains a trigger point.
How does Dry-Needling work?
What is Dry-Needling?
Trigger Point Dry Needling (TDN) is a treatment technique that utilizes thin, solid filament needles to deactivate and desensitize trigger points in muscles. Myofacial trigger points are “knots” in muscles that can contribute to pain, decreased flexibility, and decreased muscle function.
Is it the same as Acupuncture?
No it is not. The similarity of acupuncture and dry needling in Physical Therapy begins and ends at the tool. Both use a solid filament needle; however the differences are evident in the process of the practitioners assessment, application, and overall goal. The primary goal of acupuncture is to restore normal flow of the life force or “qi” (pronounced ‘chee’) which often includes assessment of the tongue and utilizes pulse diagnosis which guides the practitioner to insert needles into specific points that lie along meridians (channels) of the body throughout which the life force “qi” flows. This differs from dry needling in that, with dry needling completed by a physical therapist, treatment will include evaluation of history and behavior of symptoms, pain patterns, posture, movement, muscle and joint functional movement and a selection of orthopedic tests. This will guide the PT to insert needles into muscle tissue found to be dysfunctional allowing the patient to have improved mobility, decreased pain, and improved function.
Is the procedure painful and what are the side effects?
Most patients will not even feel the needle penetrate the skin, but once it has and is advanced into the muscle, the feeling of discomfort can vary drastically from patient to patient. Usually a healthy muscle feels very little discomfort with the insertion of the needle; however, if the muscle is sensitive and shortened or has active trigger points within it, the subject may feel a sensation much like a muscle cramp (often referred to as a twitch response). The twitch response also has a biochemical characteristic to it which likely affects the reaction of the muscle, symptoms, and response of the tissue. The patient may only feel the cramping sensation locally, or they may feel a referral of pain or similar symptoms for which they are seeking treatment.
The most prevalent side effect is soreness that is similar to “workout soreness” for 1-2 days. The soreness is quite tolerable for most, and is easily alleviated with cold/heat and stretching.
How long until results are seen?
Most patients typically see positive results within 2-4 sessions. This can vary from patient to patient depending on the cause and duration of the symptoms.
Is Dry-Needling right for me?
Dry needling is an effective treatment for acute and chronic pain, rehabilitation from injury, and pain and injury prevention, with very few side effects. Such conditions would include repetitive stress injuries, muscle tendonitis, neck pain, headaches, rotator cuff impingement, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, sciatica, muscle strains, iliotibial band syndrome, patellofemoral dysfunction, and plantar fasciitis. This technique is unequaled in finding and eliminating neuromuscular dysfunction that leads to pain and functional deficits.