Dry needling is a specific technique that uses filiform needles (also known as acupuncture needles) to treat symptoms of musculoskeletal pain. This modality is used in physical therapy for injury rehab as well as injury prevention. At C. Foster Physical Therapy, we use dry needling followed by corrective exercises to restore muscular function.
Why Dry Needling?
In patients where dry needling is appropriate, this intervention is used with the goal of decreasing pain associated with a trigger point. Evidence-based studies indicate dry needling modulates pain response, decreases muscle tension, and restores neurological function to the muscle. Releasing or inactivating a trigger point can help speed of the recovery process among active individuals.
What is a Trigger Point?
A trigger point is a hyperirritable spot in a muscle. Generally, you may be able to feel a firm area in the muscle that is tender to the touch. Currently, there is no scientific explanation of what exactly causes this tight band in the muscle. Compression of the trigger point may cause tenderness, referred pain or a localized twitch response in the muscle. However, it’s worth noting that this twitch response is not the same as a muscle spasm.
What conditions can dry needling help?
Dry needling can be beneficial in the following conditions:
- Low Back Pain
- Neck Pain
- Shoulder Pain
- Knee Pain
- Hip Pain
- Achilles Tendinopathy
- Plantar Fasciopathy
- Muscle Strains
Dry Needling Technique:
A physical therapist certified in dry needling will first identify the dysfunctional muscular tissue. After the physical therapist identifies the tissue, they will sterilize the treatment area before they insert a filiform needle into the skin and muscle. Typically, this technique will elicit a localized twitch response in the muscle. This muscle twitch is an involuntary reflex causing the muscle to contract.
Does dry needling hurt?
Dry needling affects everyone differently. Typically, patients report a mild to moderate localized pain similar to that of an injection administered by your doctor. Post-treatment symptoms vary from individual to individual with typical reports of muscle soreness presenting for up to 24 hours after treatment. Any muscle soreness lasting longer than 48 hours should be reported to your physical therapist.