what dry needling does

what dry needling does

October 17, 2023

what dry needling does

EHS Physical Therapy & Chiropractic

What Dry Needling Does

Dry needling is a treatment technique that uses a thin, sterile needle to target myofascial trigger points (tight knots in muscle tissue or scar tissue). It reduces inflammation, relaxes stiff muscles and boosts circulation to the area. Sometimes, this can provide immediate pain relief and increased mobility; however, it’s not suitable for everyone; consult your therapist before scheduling a treatment.

Relieves pain

Dry needling helps relieve pain by activating your body’s natural defenses and bringing blood and nutrients to the injured area. Additionally, it encourages muscles to release tension that’s causing you discomfort. Your physical therapist or licensed acupuncturist will identify your trigger points and apply needles to each one. During each treatment, the needles stay in your muscles for a few seconds to improve circulation and dissipate inflammatory mediators.

Many patients report feeling reduced pain after just one session, however some may need more than one treatment to achieve maximum benefit. At each session, your provider carefully cleans and holds or pinches off trigger points before inserting very fine, sterile needles. They then stimulate nerve fibers nearby, releasing chemicals and increasing blood flow to the point.

Restored mobility

Dry needling helps you regain mobility by relieving muscle tightness and improving blood flow. A physical therapist or licensed acupuncturist inserts thin, dry needles into your muscle or trigger point area for relief. Trigger points are knotted areas of tissue that can cause pain and tenderness when touched. They may also become chronic sources of discomfort throughout other parts of your body.

At your first session, your therapist will evaluate your pain and mobility to identify if trigger points are contributing to your symptoms. They then use dry needling techniques to release or inactivate the trigger point. Some patients experience an immediate reduction in pain and movement after a single dry needling session, though it may take multiple sessions to achieve maximum benefits. Your therapist will customize your treatment plan based on individual needs and objectives.

Increased strength

Dry needling helps to restore neuromuscular coordination, relax muscle tension and enhance pain control. It also increases muscle tone and sensitivity to movement, leading to greater strength and stability. Dry needles target trigger points, or areas of intense tenderness within muscles. They touch, tap or prick tiny nerve endings or neural tissue (called sensitive loci) known to contribute to muscle pain and dysfunction. Unlike other therapies like massage that may injure healthy tissue around the trigger point, dry needling gets at the source of the problem.

Researchers in a 2021 study reported that one session of dry needling significantly improved sensory motor function and hypertonia (tight muscles) among people with chronic stroke. Another 2017 study published in Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy demonstrated how dry needling helped decrease spasms, increase range of motion, enhance function and quality of life for individuals suffering from various conditions.

Reduced inflammation

Dry needling works to reduce inflammation by targeting the trigger points that cause pain in muscle or connective tissue surrounding them, known as fascia. During treatment, your provider sterilizes the area and inserts a needle into the trigger point. They may wiggle it around slightly to trigger what is known as a local twitch response – a brief spasm of muscle. Most people experience an immediate improvement in their symptoms following treatment, though it may take several sessions for long-lasting relief.

Functional dry needling (FDN) is a therapeutic technique that uses small, fine needles to treat myofascial trigger points (MTrPs), knotted areas of muscle that can cause discomfort elsewhere on the body. FDN also improves flexibility and decreases pain by loosening these knots within muscles.

If you’re experiencing back pain and sciatica or shoulder pain, dry needling may be an effective treatment option for you. To learn more about dry needling and other services offered at EHS Physical Therapy & Chiropractic, or to schedule an appointment, please visit our contact page.

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