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What's the Big Deal with Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a type of therapy that is becoming increasingly popular in the medical field. It definitely has a cool and trendy factor going on which makes people very curious...So let's chat!

Dry needling is a physical therapy technique used to treat muscle pain and trigger points. It involves the insertion of thin, monofilament needles into the skin and muscles, which can help to relieve muscle tension, reduce inflammation and improve circulation. It is termed “dry” needling because there is no medication (liquid) being inserted into the body.


How does dry needling differ from acupuncture?

At first glance, these two treatments look very similar since they both use the same type of needle! However, the dry needling process differs from acupuncture in that it does not utilize traditional Chinese medicine principles and acu-points. Instead, dry needling focuses on anatomical structures and muscle fibers.

Is dry needling safe for everyone?

Dry needling is a safe and effective way to treat chronic pain, as well as sports injuries. It can also be used to restore normal movement patterns and improve overall performance. However, it is important to note that there are certain precautions that should be taken when performing this type of therapy. Some individuals may not be suitable candidates for dry needling due to their medical history or current health conditions. These may include pregnant individuals, immunocompromised individuals, those taking blood-thinners and those who have recently undergone surgery. We also need to take into account conditions that may seem more innocent, such as an annoying cough or persistent sneezing from all this springtime pollen! Your therapist will want to make sure you are able to lay completely still during the treatment, of course. Therefore, it is important for your physical therapist to assess your individual needs and medical history before deciding if this treatment is appropriate.

Does dry needling hurt?

Since the needle is so small, many people do not feel the initial insertion of the needle. During the technique, you may feel an involuntary muscle contraction (local twitch response) and possibly a brief aching sensation. The twitching signals a release of the taut tissue bands and helps to restore normal muscle length and tension. This twitch response also initiates immediate biochemical changes to help break the pain cycle. Following a session, you may notice muscle soreness that feels similar to post-workout soreness, which usually resolves in less than 1-2 days.

How many sessions will it take to see results?

So the magical answer for this is "It Depends!" Dry needling is highly effective and improvements can be seen in 1-2 sessions! However, there is usually an underlying reason for the symptoms in the first place. If no other lifestyle modifications or home programs are being implemented, it is possible that the same grouchy trigger point will come back when conditions are just right. Therefore, it is crucial to establish the root of the problem and make a plan for either improving motor function, mobility, and/or strength while your symptoms are at bay. A goal of a good PT is to help resolve your condition and teach you how to manage your own symptoms without the reliance on passive treatments (i.e. Dry needling, massage, TENS units, manipulations, etc)...But that's a soapbox for a different day!

To book a dry needling session, visit our services page! This initial session includes further screening and an exam of the surrounding areas to make sure you are a candidate for dry needling. If you are looking for a more comprehensive evaluation and detailed home program, I would encourage you to book a full evaluation which can include dry needling upon request!

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