Are You Going To Stick Me With That Needle?

Image of physical therapist dry needling low back for pain

What is It

Yes! Although it may sound strange, the use of dry needles can have a very effective response on pain and tightness within muscles. The needles are similar to the ones used by someone who practices acupuncture. The use of needles may be new to the world of physical therapy, but the technique has been used for years. We will discuss the purpose of dry needling and how we can use it to treat our clients.

Learn More

The term “dry” simply means a needle that doesn’t have any liquid (i.e. medication) passing through it. These needles are much smaller and generally are not felt as they enter the body. This technique differs from acupuncture, which is a traditional Chinese medicine. Follow this link, if you would like to learn more about acupuncture. The focus for dry needling is to target specific trigger points within the muscles. When the needle hits a trigger point it can cause a twitch response which will release the tension built up within the muscle. This can result in relaxation of muscles, reduced referral pain, and an increase in range of motion. Learn more here.

Image of physical therapist dry needling low back for pain

How it is used

The most common use for needles is when there is muscle tightness. Dry needling can be used as an adjunct to manual therapy to help reduce tension and trigger points. Following surgery, muscles can become restrictive resulting in decreased range of motion within a joint. Dry needling can result in the release of tightness and improved tolerance with exercise. The use of needles and electrical stimulation can also reduce pain and help improve elasticity of the joint capsule, which aid in motion and function.

No matter what dry needling is used for, it best utilized in conjunction to targeted exercise. Once the muscles are loose, it is important to use therapeutic exercise to improve one’s function. Following dry needling, we will reinforce the improvement with range of motion and strengthening exercises. Think of a computer that doesn’t seem to be responding correctly and just needs to be rebooted. In a way, the needles have the same impact on muscles. Once the muscles and joints are moving more smoothly, we can work to keep it that way with exercise.

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Ultimately, dry needling is not for everyone. Anyone who has a severe phobia of needles may not relax enough to experience the benefit. Nobody really likes needles, but if you don’t have a true phobia, or fear of them, this technique will do wonders for your health and progress towards recapturing a life of joy. Have more questions? We would be happy to speak with you more about the topic here

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