Dry needling might sound a little scary, but it’s actually a safe, effective treatment for pain, especially chronic and recurrent pain and neuromuscular problems. The technique does use needles, but they’re very, very thin — a lot thinner than needles used in vaccinations for instance. In fact, they’re the same kind of needles used in acupuncture. Also called intramuscular stimulation (IMS), biomedical needling or trigger point needling, dry needling is all natural and uses no drugs or anesthetics, plus it can be combined with other therapies and modified to accommodate every patient’s evolving needs and symptoms.
At One Accord Physical Therapy, we use dynamic integrative needling (DIN), a comprehensive approach to dry needling that supports custom care, allowing your doctor to utilize an array of approaches based on the patient’s specific needs as well as clinical experience. If you’ve got chronic pain, here’s how dry needling could help you get rid of your symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.
Dry needling: When it's used
Dry needling has a wide variety of applications, including treating conditions like:
- chronic pain syndromes, including fibromyalgia and chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- migraine, tension, and cervicogenic headaches
- whiplash and muscle-related injuries
- temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD)
- pain from osteoarthritis
- chronic joint pain
- sciatica and other lower back pain
- hip and shoulder pain, including bursitis, impingement, and cuff tears
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- tennis or golfer’s elbow
- sports and training injuries
Dry needling works by releasing trigger points, “knotted” areas of muscle tissue that form as a result of irritation and inflammation. Trigger points are a source of significant pain, and because of the inherent inflammation, they can also restrict normal range of movement, sometimes making even small movements very painful. When trigger points are in your back, neck, shoulders, or hips, even sitting still or standing can be uncomfortable.
Benefits of dry needling
Overall, dry needling helps relieve pain and related symptoms by promoting better circulation and relaxing muscle strain. But it has other specific benefits as well:
Dry needling treat active and latent trigger points
Active trigger points are those that are already very painful and tender. Latent trigger points typically cause little to no pain now, but without treatment, they almost certainly will in time. During a treatment session, as the needle penetrates the knotted tissue of active and latent trigger points, it releases toxins and improves circulation to promote natural healing and ease muscle strain that inhibits movement.
It’s very targeted
While deep massage can help relieve some of the symptoms associated with trigger points, it tends to be broader in its approach. With dry needling, your doctor performs a comprehensive evaluation first to determine the precise location of your trigger points. Once inserted, the needles offer very targeted treatment for more meaningful and longer lasting relief. Unlike acupuncture where needle placement is based on the Chinese medicine concepts of Qi or inner energy, dry needling is based on a thorough physical evaluation and a scientific understanding of anatomy and pain pathology.
It’s completely customizable
Dry needling can be used on its own, but it’s almost always used in combination with other therapies, including massage and therapeutic exercise, to help restore function, relieve pain, and prevent future problems. For instance, dry needling might be used to help eliminate trigger points that could be interfering with exercise and movement therapy. Or it may be used with tissue manipulation or other modalities to address chronic or recurring back or neck pain. Our team will work with you closely to develop a plan of care focused on your needs for optimal results.
Relieve painful symptoms and start enjoying your life again
Don’t let pain control your life. At One Accord Physical Therapy, we can devise a treatment plan based on your needs, your lifestyle, and your medical history to help you achieve symptom relief and other benefits as well. To learn more about dry needling and how it could fit into your overall pain management treatment plan, contact the practice today.