Benefits of Dry Needling

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What is Dry Needling and How does it work?

This is a technique of gently inserting a very fine gauge needle (same as acupuncture needles) into specific trigger points within the muscle bellies of tight muscles. The aim is to release myofascial pain in these muscles, and minimising and removing the referred pain that these trigger points cause. A trigger point feels just like a tight nodule within the muscle (a knot).  Often when pressed, it sends pain to another area of the body. Traditionally, massage has been the main method to alleviate these knots, but Dry Needling can rather effectively to do the same thing. It is often quicker and more efficient for some of the deeper muscles that may be difficult to access using remedial massage techniques. Even for a Deep Tissue Massage.

close up dry needling
Dr Sonia applying dry needles to the low back

How it works is that Dry Needling has the effect of increasing blood supply to the needled area, causing an influx of oxygen, and also a removal of the toxins that cause pain within the nerve endings in the muscle. It’s no wonder it can help in some very stubborn cases.

How does Dry Needling differ to Acupuncture?

A lot of people ask if it is the same as Acupuncture. Well, Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that involves redirecting the flow of energy or Qi in order to relieve muscle pain and improve health. In contrast, Dry Needling is based on western medicine using anatomy and physiology to determine trigger point locations (not surprisingly, often these trigger points line up with meridians in the body) and helps to alleviate musculoskeletal pain and myofascial dysfunction. Unlike Acupuncture, Dry needling is administered by a range of health professionals that are specifically trained in this technique, such as us Chiropractors.

What does Dry Needling treat?

dry needling lower back
Dr Sonia applies Dry Needling to help with low back pain

Dry needling treats a number of stubborn musculoskeletal disorders. Here are some of the issues Dry Needling addresses with great success:

• Neck, back, hip and arm pain due to myofascial pain syndrome
• Bursitis of the shoulder or supraspinatus tendonitis
• Tennis or Golfer’s elbow
• Headaches & migraines
• Tendinitis
• Jaw pain (TMJ syndrome)
• Leg pain, sciatica, or calf tightness
• Osteoarthritis
• Scar tissue
• Sinusitis

Are there any side effects to Dry Needling?

Initially when applying the needle to an active trigger point, we often elicit a twitch response in the muscle (the muscle spasms or twitches involuntarily). For instance, if the needle in the correct part of the muscle, it will have the best therapeutic benefit to the patient. However, the needle can feel weird to some people, and it often makes people jump the first time they experience it. Some patients may experience mild muscle soreness, and slight bruising over the treated area. Additionally, there maybe some activated pain into the zone of referred pain. This typically only lasts for a day or so at the most. As a result, depending on the amount of soreness, some further treatment may be required such as applying heat or ice to the area, and stretching or gentle massage.

To determine whether Dry Needling is for you, a full history is taken along with a physical assessment of the problem areas. There may be factors that determine either way if you are likely to respond well to this type of treatment. Dry needling is an extremely beneficial modality in cases of acute pain, soft tissue injuries as well as well as in patients with reduced mobility. I really hope that you will ask about this form of treatment if you are interested in finding out more.

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