What is dry needling? Is it painful? Risky? What is it good for?
With people’s aversion to needles who would have thought they would be anything other than a way to torture or drain blood? The fickle easily strained or knotted human body always in the need of some miracle cure for pain and discomfort. Go ahead admit it. Laying on a table while someone thrusts needles into your muscles sounds barbaric or like some sort of mid-evil punishment but is it beneficial?
Dry needling is the technique of inserting a sterile, single-use dry needle ( “dry” as in no injections) into the muscle as a treatment to improve function and decrease pain by releasing the knots in the muscle (myofascial trigger points). The method of dry needling is often used by physical therapists to treat many things from sports injuries to fibromyalgia.
The needle is inserted into the trigger point by a certified or specially trained practitioner and then moved in an up-and-down “pistoning” motion causing the tight muscle to cramp or twitch and then relax releasing muscle tension. This release of tension may improve flexibility and range of motion. Other benefits from this therapy are increased blood flow and reduced inflammation. The choice of needles used depends on the type of technique is used and the depth of the trigger point within the tissue. the needles used are usually 0.16mm – 0.3mm thick and 1.5 cm – 6 cm long in size.
How long does it take to work? The increased mobility is usually immediate and the decrease in pain can take up to 24 hours but to get any lasting effect several treatments, like once a week for 2 or 3 weeks may be necessary.
Being a relatively new treatment in relation to its counterparts; dry needling is not usually reimbursed by insurance but at around $40 a session, it is reasonably affordable considering the benefits one receives. There are some side effects when putting a pin in the pain and those may consist of bruising, bleeding and sort term soreness around the injection sites.
It must be noted that dry needling is not the same as acupuncture. While yes if you were to see the two procedures in a photograph it might be hard to decipher between them and they use just about the same tools but that is where their similarities cease. Acupuncture comes from eastern medicine and needling is more of a western medicine derivative.
So by hopping on that table, a person stands a true chance at a life with better pain management… and that, my friends, is what dry needling is good for!