What is dry needing? Your top 5 questions answered

So – What is dry needling?

Dry needling – it’s not a new form of craft your grandma does!

Dry needling is an invasive technique used by physiotherapists to treat myofascial pain. It involves using a thin filiform needle to penetrates the skin in to the muscle. The needle stimulates underlying myofascial trigger points and muscular and connective tissues, helping them to relax or release. It can be used to treat areas that can’t effectively be reached via other manual therapies such as massage. The goal of this treatment is to release trigger points (you may know them as muscle knots) to relieve pain and improve proper muscle function.  It is relaxing and therapeutic procedure that can form part of an ongoing rehabilitation program and is suitable for conditions such as back and neck pain including from poor posture in the workplace. It is also very useful for treating sporting injuries.

What’s the difference between acupuncture and dry needling?

Modern dry needling is based on current medical science and research, while acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine  (TCM). In acupuncture, needles are inserted along meridian lines which represent the body’s internal organs. They are usually left in place for 15-30 minutes. Traditional accupuncture is generally used to treat issues such as digestion, stress, insomnia and fertility. With dry needling, needles are inserted into a very localised and specific muscle area, specifically to elicit a ‘twitch response’ which helps restore normal muscle function.  The insertion of the needle into specific taut areas causes tiny injuries within muscles, which then triggers a healing response to renew the injured tissue.

Does it hurt?

Typically the needle insertion is not felt, however the twitch response or sudden contraction of the muscle may cause a very brief pain response, which is similar to a cramp or slight ache. This response is actually a good thing and will stimulate healing.  Although the discomfort is usually only felt for a few seconds, following therapy some muscle soreness can be expected for up to 24-48hrs afterwards. You may also feel a little tired, similar to after undertaking a workout. Many candidates find this treatment relaxing.

What conditions can it treat?

Trigger point therapy can effectively treat a range of acute and chronic conditions including back and neck pain, calf and hamstring problems, chronic headaches and migraines and muscle tightness. We find it particularly effective for treating sporting injuries.

How does it fit into my rehabilitation plan?

It is common to receive dry needling at the beginning of your treatment program to break the pain cycle. While it can be useful in relieving pain it does not necessarily address the source of the pain, which may need to be targeted through other forms of Physiotherapy treatment and rehabilitation exercises. Many patients respond positively to dry needling quickly, although in other cases it may take several days to feel the results. Usually, a few sessions will be needed to get lasting benefits.

What do you think?

Have you tried dry needling? Tell us your thoughts or any other questions you may have or check out further information about this therapy at Trained Physio and Fitness.