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What Is Dry Needle Therapy

Is Dry Needling An Approved Technique

What is Dry Needling?

Absolutely, and its gaining popularity where people are seeking out more natural therapies that dont require pain medication or more invasive techniques. In fact, the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists officially includes dry needling as an appropriate therapy and includes it as part of the skill set of a trained physical therapist. Plus, dry needling has been shown to have a low risk of infection or other side effects.

Dry Needling For Knee Pain

Dry needling loosens tight muscles, relieves joint discomfort, and promotes blood flow to the affected area by causing knotted muscles to contract and then relax. Dry needling therapy has proven to be an effective treatment for orthopaedic patients suffering from knee pain, shoulder discomfort, hip pain, and/or back pain.

Physiological Effects Of Dry Needling

From a purely medical perspective, whether in search of a concentration of chi or a neuromuscular/myofascial trigger point, the physiological effect of inserting a needle through a patients skin will have the same effect on the bodys immune system.

  • The needle creates a minor tissue puncture injury.
  • The injury causes inflammation at the site .
  • The inflammation stimulates the body to increase amount of blood flowing to the injury site, which also automatically increases the oxygen supply, which in turn leads to more rapid healing.
  • When properly inserted in to the correct trigger point in the targeted muscle, the dry needle will trigger what is known as the local twitch response: the involuntary contraction of the band of taught muscle fibers within the muscle. Once this reflex has been triggered, the following additional physiological benefits can occur:

    • Increased blood flow and oxygenation
    • Hyperstimulation analgesia: the stimulation of both large myelinated fibers , as well as C-fibers, achieved indirectly via the release of inflammatory mediators

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    The Effectiveness Of Dry Needling

    Dry needling is beneficial for conditions that treat any pain and dysfunction in the musculoskeletal system. Conditions that are typically treated are pain points found in the back, neck, shoulder, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, knee pain, and shin splints.

    It has also been proven to be incredibly effective for patients suffering from long-term or chronic pain that doesnt resolve with other pain management programs. An example of this would be dry needling and sciatica, which is pain along the sciatic nerve that affects one side of the body. Dry needling can address the nerve pain that branches out from the lower back and down to the hips, buttocks, and legs. Theres also dry needling for neuropathy in feet, which treats a condition where people experience tingling, numbing, or jabbing pain in the feet. By pinpointing specific muscle trigger points, dry needling can treat muscle spasms, nerve pain, and other recurring aches.

    Why Is It Called Dry Needling

    Dry Needling Near Me

    Dry needling got its name, in part, to differentiate it from acupuncture. The primary reason, however, is to distinguish it from the process of using needles to inject medicine or wet needles.

    When you receive an injection by a physician, dentist, nurse or physicians assistant, they will use a hypodermic needle which contains some medication . The needles used are hollow to allow the medicine to pass through the needle into the body. You can see the difference below:

    • A monofilament or filiform needle used in dry needling.
    • A hypodermic needle.

    Examine the illustration above. They show the relative proportions one compared to the other. You can imagine that a hollow point needle would be more painful due to the surface area of the needle that will contact and push through the tissue when inserted.

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    How Many Sessions Are Needed

    The number of needle treatments you need will depend on the kind of pain you have. Those with acute pain may need only one session, while individuals with chronic pain may require several treatments to feel better. If you dont feel the effects after the first session, then continue with more treatments, as dry needling has a cumulative effect! Your practitioner will determine the frequency and duration of your treatment after your first session based on your condition.

    Immediate Pain Relief So You Can Enjoy Life Again

    Dry needling offers an alternative treatment option for pain relief and improved muscle movement. Also known as trigger point dry needling or intramuscular manual therapy, the treatment uses a dry needle a needle without medicine to deactivate trigger points in your muscle.

    Dry needling is typically combined with other physical therapy exercises and techniques. And unlike acupuncture. dry needling focuses on trigger points in the muscle. Acupuncture relieves pain or discomfort by normalizing a patients energy flow.

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    How Does Dry Needling Treat Trigger Point Pain

    A physical therapist will take a thin, unmedicated filiform needle to penetrate the skin, deep into the muscle tissue. The needle will stimulate the underlying myofascial trigger point and the surrounding areas. That tight band of oxygen-deprived scar tissue, when a needle is inserted into it, will produce whats called a twitch reflex. The twitch reflex decreases muscle contraction, reduces irritation and pain, and also improves flexibility. A lesion will form from the needle which cuts through 15,000 muscle fibers.

    The body thinks the needle is a foreign invader, and it activates the immune system. Cut muscle fibers then produce an inflammatory reaction that helps to reduce inflammation all through the body, not just at the site of the penetrated trigger point.

    Trigger points are incredibly difficult to manipulate and treat manually. A physical therapist can trigger and target tissues that they otherwise could not stimulate manually when they use dry needling.

    Dry needling is also relatively painless, but during the local twitch response, you may feel a slight cramping or aching sensation. This is brief and indicates that the method is working to stimulate the muscle fibers and produce an immune system response.

    Dry Needling Therapy In Practice

    Dry Needling for Treatment of Neck and Back Pain

    Dry needling therapy has been used throughout the world for years. It is an accepted treatment in use by physical therapists in most US states, for the treatment of the following conditions and more:

    • Overuse injuries

    As a tool for physical therapists, the use of dry needling allows for the precise targeting of deep tissues that cannot be reached by surface touch. By using the filoform needles to release or inactivate trigger points, therapists have a powerful tool to relieve pain and improve range of motion.

    Dry needling may improve pain control, reduce muscle tension, and normalize dysfunctions of the motor end plates all of which can speed a patient’s return to active rehabilitation.

    Whether dry needling therapy is viewed as an evolution of traditional Chinese medicine, or as a relatively new field developed by contemporary Western medical practice, this techniquewhatever form or description it has taken through historyhas been helping millions of people for thousands of years. It is a safe, tested, and medication-free option for the successful treatment of pain.

    If you are interested in learning more about dry needling as a therapy option contact Coastal Orthopedics in Corpus Christi at 994-1166.

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    Can Dry Needling Alleviate Your Muscle Pain

    Hard, knotted muscles, back strain, and herniated discs are extremely painful conditions. Finding adequate relief for these types of issues can be hard. If youre experiencing the pain associated with trigger points and other muscle strain, you may have heard of the practice of dry needling. What is dry needling, and can it alleviate your muscle pain?Dry needling is the practice of inserting a dry needle inside muscle tissues for intramuscular therapy purposes. The needle is not medicated, and the method is not a form of acupuncture. Dry needling is part of Western medicine and can be performed by a physical therapist who is licensed with the state. State laws govern the practice of dry needling.

    What type of pain and muscular issues can be alleviated with dry needling?

    Dry needling can alleviate pain associated with the following conditions:

    • Herniated discs

    What To Expect During & After Treatment

    The needles do not hurt going in because they are very fine and solid. The needles only stay in long enough to relax the muscle. The amount of needles you will need, or sessions of dry needling, depends largely on the amount of pain you have, and the number of areas you need work done on.

    After treatment, you may feel slightly sore after dry needling, but within a period of a few hours to a day, you will feel less pain and tightness in the muscles, and youll notice an improvement in chronic injuries.

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    So Is It Similar To Acupuncture

    No the only similarity is that dry needling and acupuncture use the same type of needle.

    Dry needling is based on anatomy and neurophysiology, and its aim is to needle the altered or dysfunctional trigger points in order to improve or restore function. Traditional Acupuncture aims to promote health and restore energetic balance by stimulating certain acupuncture points found along certain meridians throughout the body.

    How Does Dry Needling Work With Chronic Muscle Tightness

    Dry Needling Therapy

    It stimulates a trigger point in a skeletal muscle. You might call it a knot, and it can cause more widespread pain than just the muscle in which it’s found. Another name for a trigger point is myofascial pain syndrome. A tight band of skeletal muscle inside a larger muscle group, a trigger point can be tender when you touch it and may cause pain in other areas of your body.

    As part of a larger treatment plan, your therapist is using dry needling to try to release the trigger point, relieving pain and/or improving your movement. Dry needling can reduce muscle tension and improve pain. A twitch can occur when the needle goes into the trigger point, and may be a sign that the therapy is working.

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    How Does Dry Needling Work

    Muscle injury can result from acute trauma or repetitive use, causing inflammation and pain. With time, the injured muscle can become tense and contracted to keep itself protected from further damage. This inflammation and contracture can inhibit circulation, which may limit the delivery of oxygen-rich blood to the injured tissue and at the same time, limit the removal of waste products from the affected site. The site becomes hypoxic and this stimulates the body to produce scar tissue . This process results in the muscles reduced ability to function properly and can also cause irritation of surrounding nerves. The painful site with contracted muscle fibers become a myofascial trigger point, which when touched can exhibit severe pain.

    With dry needling physical therapy, very fine needles are inserted into a painful and knotted muscle. This creates a local twitching reflex, which is therapeutic since it breaks the pain cycle. Research shows that this procedure decreases chemical irritation and muscle contraction, while at the meantime improves flexibility, thus relieving pain.

    Cost And Health Insurance

    Dry needling is not always covered by insurance, as it is considered an experimental treatment. Plans that cover acupuncture and other complementary and alternative therapies are more likely to cover dry needling, but it is a good idea to check first.

    Some therapists provide dry needling on a cash-pay basis only.

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    Dry Needling: Benefits And What To Expect

    For people with chronic head and body aches, pain and fatigue are a way of life. While ibuprofen and other medications can offer short-term relief, they can cause other issues when used frequently. Dry needling is becoming a staple for individuals looking for a way to alleviate pain without drugs. This technique has gained popularity among physical therapists to relieve pain associated with muscle stiffness and tension.

    How Do Trigger Points Form

    Acupuncture/ What is Dry Needling?

    Trigger points occur when the muscle experiences injuries or overuse. Inflammation builds up in the damaged tissues. Once this happens, the muscle enters whats called a protective tension state, or contracture to protect itself against further damage. Contracture then inhibits microcirculation, which subsequently deprives the tissues of oxygen-rich blood. Waste products cant leave the site of the injury if no blood is effectively able to circulate. So, the injury site becomes oxygen deprived. The body then creates cells called fibroblasts that produce scar tissue. Scarring limits the tissues ability to fully function, and the muscle bands become short and taut. This irritates the nerves, causing pain.

    When the pain from a trigger point persists or gets worse, then it is called Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with the syndrome, and most diagnoses occur between the ages of 20 and 40. Risk factors include stress, anxiety, injury, sedentary jobs, poor posture, joint problems, and repetitive motion. Left untreated, chronic trigger points and myofascial pain syndrome can lead to sleep disorders and fibromyalgia.

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    What Is Dry Needling

    Dry needling is also called trigger point dry needling or myofascial trigger point dry needling. It is done by acupuncturists, some chiropractors, medical doctors, and some physical therapists to treat myofascial pain. The word myofascial is made up of the roots myo and fascia .

    Muscles sometimes develop knotted areas called trigger points. These trigger points are highly sensitive and can be painful when touched. They are also often the cause of referred pain . Clinicians push thin solid needles through the skin into trigger points. The needles are used to stimulate the tissue, not to inject medication.

    Pain affects how your body moves. It is thought that dry needling changes the way the brain and muscles talk to each other to let the system return to a more normal movement pattern.

    A patient may experience different sensations when being needled, muscle soreness, aching and a muscle twitch when a needle is inserted is considered to be a good sign. The needles may be placed deeply or superficially, for shorter or longer periods of time, depending on what type of pain is being treated and how long it has lasted. Shorter periods of time would mean that needle would stay in the muscle for seconds, while longer periods could mean 10 to 15 minutes.

    On Pins And Needles: Just What Is Dry Needling

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    You may have heard of a treatment called dry needling and wondered what exactly it is or if its something that may be right for you.

    While the name of the procedure may sound intimidating, dry needling is safe, minimally discomforting and often an effective technique for patients with certain musculoskeletal presentations. Dry needling is a treatment performed by skilled, trained physical therapists, certified in the procedure. A thin monofilament needle penetrates the skin and treats underlying muscular trigger points for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments.

    So, what is a trigger point? A trigger point is a local contracture or tight band in a muscle fiber that can disrupt function, restrict range of motion, refer pain or cause local tenderness. When dry needling is applied to a dysfunctional muscle or trigger point, it can decrease banding or tightness, increase blood flow, and reduce local and referred pain.

    Its important to note dry needling is not the same as acupuncture. It uses similar tools, but thats where the similarities end. Dry needling is performed by different practitioners with different training. Acupuncture is based on Eastern medicine, while dry needling is rooted in Western medicine and evaluation of pain patterns, posture, movement impairments, function and orthopedic tests.

    Kara Johnson is a physical therapist who sees inpatients in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

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    What Types Of Problems Does Dry Needling Treat

    Muscle dysfunction can be a primary or secondary contributing factor of many musculoskeletal conditions. Thus, dry needling can benefit anyone suffering from headaches, neck pain, repetitive stress injuries, muscle tendonitis, rotator cuff impingement, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, sciatica, muscle strains, iliotibial band syndrome, patellofemoral dysfunction, and plantar fasciitis just to name a few!

    Are There Any Cons To Dry Needling

    Dry Needling Archives

    Some patients report a little soreness at the treatment site and occasional local bleeding or mild bruising. But most negative effects are mild and clear up within a week or so, according to the JABFM study and our own experience. The most important thing when considering dry needling is to be sure your therapist is fully trained. This is key to avoiding injury and preventing or minimizing pain.

    In some cases, dry needling is not covered by insurance while we wait for insurers to catch up with this valuable option. But for many patients, the pain relief is worth any out of pocket costs.

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    Working With A Dry Needling Professional

    Whether the treatment is for acute or chronic pain, those seeking treatment should look for well-practiced professionals to administer it. Finding the right practitioner is crucial since needle treatments are very delicate and require a certain level of care, precision, and expertise on the targeted muscle points. Whether its your first time or not, dry needling undoubtedly continues to be an effective way to relieve several sources of pain.

    What You Should Know About Dry Needling

    Dry needling is used alongside other therapies to treat many conditions, including:

    • Carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition of the hand and fingers caused by a pinched nerve
    • Face and jaw pain
    • Fibromyalgia, muscle pain that includes fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues
    • and sprain, including plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes

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    Relieves Muscle Tightness And Pain

    Instead of treating the general area of the pain, dry needling targets the origin point. For example, if you have shoulder and neck pain, the therapist inserts the needles into the trigger points. It alleviates the pressure and tension in the muscle and releases any inflammation and chemicals. As a result, you may experience immediate pain relief.


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