Dry Needling

What is dry needling?

Dry needling is a technique that  trained healthcare providers use to treat musculoskeletal pain  and movement issues. It’s almost always used as part of a larger pain managment plan that could include exercise, stretching, massage and other techniques. During this treatment, a provider inserts thin, sharp needles through your skin to treat underlying myofascial trigger points.

dry needling

How does dry needling work?

When your muscle is overused, it goes into an energy crisis where the muscle fibers aren’t getting an adequate blood supply. When they don’t get the normal blood supply, they don’t get the oxygen and nutrients that will allow your muscle to go back to their normal resting state.

When this happens, the tissue near your trigger point becomes more acidic. Your nerves are sensitized, which makes the area sore and painful.

Stimulating a trigger point with a needle helps draw normal blood supply back to flush out the area and release tension. The prick sensation can also fire off nerve fibers that stimulate your brain to release endorphins  your body’s homemade pain medication.

Once your therapist locates a trigger point, they’ll insert a needle through your skin directly into it. They might move the needle around a little to try to get what’s called a local twitch response — a quick spasm of your muscle. This reaction can be a good sign that your muscle is reacting.

Some people feel improvement in their pain and mobility almost immediately after a dry needling session. For others, it takes more than one session.

dry needling

What does dry needling do?

Dry needling may help relieve pain and increase your range of motion. Conditions that dry needling may treat include:

  • Joint issues
  • Disk issues
  • Tendonitis
  • Migrain and tension type headaches
  • Jaw and mouth issues, such as TMJ disorders
  • Whiplash
  • Repetitive motion disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Spinal issues
  • Pelvic pain 
  • Night cramps
  • Phantom limb pain 
  • Postherpetic neuralgia a complication of shingles

Who shouldn’t get dry needling treatments?

There are certain groups of people who shouldn’t receive dry needling. Providers don’t recommend the procedure for children under the age of 12 because it can be painful. You and your child will both need to provide consent, and you should consider other less invasive options first. Other groups who should consult with their physician before receiving dry needling include people who:

  • Pregnant
  • Aren’t able to understand the treatment
  • Are very afraid of needles 
  • Have compromised immunity
  • Have just had surgery
  • Are on blood thinners

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