Dry Needling physical therapy might sound like an intimidating name, but it is actually a super effective and completely safe form of therapy. Many people have found relief from migraines, joint pain, whiplash and more using this kind of therapy.
What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a technique that has been developed over decades of time. It is performed by licensed Physical Therapists. It is done by using very thin needles that are inserted into the muscles in the body that are experiencing dysfunction or pain. The needle causes a twitch response. This is the muscle fibers involuntarily contracting. That causes the fibers in a sense to “reset“.
The technique can:
- Relieve trigger point pain
- Improve muscle activation
- Heal damaged tissue
What Are the Effects?
The effects of the needle cause the protein filaments to assume a more relaxed state with less tension. This allows greater mobility and flexibility within the muscle.
Other effects of dry needle therapy are improved blood flow to the area and improved neuromuscular function of the muscle following treatment.
How Painful Is Dry Needling?
Most people would describe the feeling associated with dry needling as discomfort more often than pain. Dry needling uses very thin solid needles that are a much smaller gauge than a typical needle used for injections or drawing blood. Usually, when someone receives dry needling treatment they don’t feel the needle going into their muscles.
What Does it Feel Like?
Many people feel a twitch response. A twitch response is an involuntary muscle contraction of the targeted muscles of the dry needling. It is a quick contraction of the muscle that can be uncomfortable at times but the common response when it happens is surprise rather than pain.
Another common response to dry needling physical therapy is people will sometimes feel what they call a “deep ache“ or a “toothache“ type feeling in the muscles. This is a passing feeling that happens during treatment and goes away when the treatment is finished.
There is also a chance to hit a blood vessel or a nerve when doing dry needling which can produce a sharper pain. This sounds scary and does hurt, but this can be minimized by a practitioner that has the experience and good knowledge of anatomy. This allows them to know how to avoid these structures. If they do hit them inadvertently, it just requires a small readjustment of the needle and no lasting damage or pain should occur.
How Long Does It For To Work?
The effects of dry needling physical therapy can often be felt immediately following treatment. In fact, the majority of people say that after getting a dry needling treatment they feel an immediate change in the muscle being treated.
This change can be felt through various ways such as:
- Decreased pain
- Improved flexibility of the muscle
- Improved function of the muscle
Although the effects of dry needling in the majority of cases can be felt immediately, this is not always the case. Sometimes effects can take a day or two to be felt with the same previously described reactions occurring.
What Is the Difference Between Acupuncture and Dry Needling?
Acupuncture and dry needling have some similarities but many differences. Acupuncture needle placement is based largely in eastern medicine, whereas dry needling placement of needles is based on the location of the affected muscles. Acupuncture and dry needling might often use the same needles but the reasoning for needle placement is drastically different between the two disciplines.
One of the best things about dry needling is that there really is not much that you can’t do after a session.
Sometimes bruising can occur after dry needling. If a blood vessel is hit, it would slightly limit the muscle due to some residual pain but there are no major restrictions following a dry needling treatment.