Dry Needling is a drugless treatment option that is often used by healthcare practitioners such as physical therapists and chiropractors to eliminate muscle and joint pain caused by trigger points and other soft tissue problems. The practitioner uses a sterile acupuncture needle that is inserted into the trigger point, causing the trigger point to “release”. This release helps to reduce pain, muscle tension, and increases mobility.
Dry needling can be used to reduce the pain associated with all sorts of musculoskeletal problems. Neck pain, back pain and sciatica all respond very well to dry needling. So does shoulder impingement, plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems.
After a sports or motor vehicle injury, the muscles of the affected area can develop trigger points due to muscle strains and joint sprains. Dry needling is very effective at releasing these trigger points and reducing the pain they can cause.
Patients with chronic headaches and migraines can also benefit from Dry Needling. Often times the practitioner can identify trigger points in the neck and head that contribute to frequent headaches and migraines.
Most people feel little to no discomfort with the application of the sterile needle and immediate relief from pain. Once the needle hits the trigger point, you may experience a “twitch response” which would feel like a quick muscle cramp. Some patients experience muscle soreness after dry needling treatment up to 24-48 hours. We advise applying a heating pack and drinking plenty of water to reduce any soreness.
Dry Needling works in two important ways. First, it activates the body’s immune response. We call this a histamine reaction. The area around the needle may become red as evidence that the histamine reaction is happening. This reaction alerts the body’s immune cells to the needle which is seen as a “foreign invader”. This increases blood flow to the tissue and causes a cascade of healing and repair. Once the needle is removed the immune cells think “Yay! We defeated that foreign invader. Now send in the repair crew!” Cells that are specialized in healing and repair of damaged tissue go to the area and begin the repair phase.
The second way that dry needling works is to physically break up microscopic adhesions on the muscle fibers allowing the muscle to contract and relax normally.
Dry Needling is often paired with a comprehensive care approach by incorporating physical therapy, chiropractic or massage to prevent the trigger points from returning.
If you would like to learn more about dry needling and see if it’s the right treatment for you schedule a risk-free consultation with one of our doctors.