Have you ever wondered what the benefits of dry needling in physical therapy are? If you suffer from chronic pain, inflammation, or muscle tension, you may benefit from it. In physical therapy settings, dry needling is especially beneficial to help restore range of motion, reduce chronic pain, and decrease inflammation.
Since our therapists have become certified in dry needling, we have had many patients inquire about what dry needling really is. Some people think that dry needling is the same as acupuncture but in reality, it’s not.
What is Dry Needling?
Perhaps you’ve heard of a procedure called dry needling and are unsure if it’s beneficial to you. Despite the intimidating name, dry needling is a widely available and affordable therapy for those who may suffer with:
- Shoulder, neck, knee & back pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Hip, pelvic & gluteal pain
- Headaches and migraines
- Joint problems & tendonitis
- Myofascial pain
- Shin splints
- Spinal issues
Dry needling is the process of inserting a tiny needle into a “trigger point” in a tight, painful, or underperforming muscle. The goal is to release the trigger point which increases muscle flexibility and performance while decreasing pain and symptoms.
The term “dry” refers to the fact that the needle is not injecting any fluid, as opposed to a vaccine. These dry needles are solely used to heal trigger points by puncturing the skin and reaching the trigger points in the muscle in order to alleviate localized or referred pain and improve the range of motion.
Does it Hurt?
The actual insertion of the needle can be uncomfortable but it’s essentially painless because these needles are extremely thin. However, once the needle penetrates the muscle, it may twitch, which can sometimes be painful feeling like a pinch, cramp, or bee sting, but after just a few minutes of insertion, the muscle relaxes. After treating a muscle, you may experience a slight muscle ache or local soreness for a day or two, but you should also experience a decrease in pain, better motion, or reduced inflammation. Keep in mind that everyone’s pain tolerance varies, so your experience may differ from someone else’s.
Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture
Since both acupuncture and dry needling use tiny, stainless-steel needles, you might not understand how they differ if you’ve only ever seen photos of them. In both procedures, needles are inserted at specific parts of the body in order to relieve discomfort from the inside out. Acupuncture uses specific points based on Chinese medicine meridians whereas dry needling targets trigger points within the muscle for optimal muscle relaxation.
We hope that this blog and video have given you a better understanding of what dry needling is and how we utilize it in our clinic. This overview only touches the surface of dry needling. If you’re interested in learning more about what we do or scheduling a dry needling session, please get in touch with us here. You can always visit our YouTube channel, where we provide more useful tips and tricks.