As a physical therapist, I’ve seen many patients with neuropathy who have struggled to find effective treatments for their pain. While there is no single cure for neuropathy, dry needling is a promising treatment option that may offer relief for some patients.
Dry needling is a technique that involves the insertion of fine needles into trigger points or tight muscles to release tension and reduce pain. While there is limited research on the use of dry needling specifically for neuropathy, some studies suggest that it may be a useful treatment for certain types of pain that can be associated with neuropathy.
For example, a 2016 study found that dry needling was more effective than trigger point manual pressure in reducing pain and disability in patients with chronic neck pain, which can sometimes cause symptoms similar to neuropathy. Similarly, a 2017 study found that dry needling was more effective than a sham intervention in reducing pain and improving function in patients with plantar heel pain, which can sometimes be caused by neuropathy.
In my own clinical experience, we have seen many patients who have found relief from their neuropathy-related pain with dry needling. One patient, who had been experiencing burning and tingling sensations in his legs and feet for several years, had his pain reduced significantly after just a few dry needling sessions. In addition to this he stated that his back pain reduced as well.
One particularly interesting patient we had we used dry needling with electrical stimulation on her knee to restore sensation in the knee. Our patient had a total knee replacement and following the replacement she didn’t have sensation in a large portion of her knee. She had heard of us treating another patient to help restore sensation in her hand and decided to give it a try. The video to the left shows the progression of her sensation being restored over the course of 4 weeks.
Of course, dry needling may not be appropriate for all patients, and it’s important to discuss the potential risks and benefits with each patient before recommending this treatment option. However, for many patients with neuropathy, dry needling may offer a safe, effective, and drug-free alternative to traditional pain management approaches.
In conclusion, as a physical therapist, I strongly believe that dry needling is an effective treatment option for neuropathy-related pain. While more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and risks of this technique, the existing evidence, combined with my own clinical experience, suggests that dry needling may be a valuable tool in the management of neuropathy-related pain.
- Liu L, Huang QM, Liu QG, et al. The effectiveness of dry needling and procaine injection therapies on patients with myofascial pain syndrome. J Pain Res. 2019;12:2095-2103. doi:10.2147/JPR.S204090
- Li Y, Wang R, Li X, Zhang H, Gao Y. Dry needling for patients with neck pain: protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2018;8(10):e024058. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-024058
- Gaowgzeh RA, Almalty AM, Al-majid SSA. Effectiveness of dry needling versus a classical physiotherapy program in patients with chronic mechanical neck pain: a randomized controlled trial. J Phys Ther Sci. 2017;29(9):1510-1513. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.1510
- Cotchett MP, Landorf KB, Munteanu SE. Effectiveness of dry needling and injections of myofascial trigger points associated with plantar heel pain: a systematic review. J Foot Ankle Res. 2010;3:18. doi:10.1186/1757-1146-3-18
- Renan-Ordine R, Alburquerque-Sendín F, de Souza DP, Cleland JA, Fernández-de-Las-Peñas C. Effectiveness of myofascial trigger point manual therapy combined with a self-stretching protocol for the management of plantar heel pain: a randomized controlled trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2011;41(2):43-50. doi:10.2519/jospt.2011.3504