Dry needling is an advanced technique administered by Lynch Physical Therapy providers. The practice requires both advanced training and certification, and less than 20% of physical therapists in the state of Maryland are credentialed to perform the technique. Also referred to as trigger point dry needling, the procedure is minimally invasive, involving the insertion of a solid filament needle into the muscle directly at a myofascial knot or adhesion. While it may appear similar to acupuncture, the process and rationale differ greatly. Dry needling aims to decrease muscle contractions, which are related to the production and maintenance of the pain cycle. It is most often used to address persistent, painful muscle knots which have not responded to other soft tissue mobilization techniques. Dry needling is utilized in conjunction with a variety of physical therapy modalities, stretching, and education.
What can be treated with Dry Needling?
Dry needling can be used for a variety of musculoskeletal problems as muscles are thought to be primary contributing factors in pain symptoms. These conditions include, but are not limited to, pain in the neck, back, shoulder, elbow, wrist, jaw, buttock, leg (sciatica, hamstrings strains, calf tightness/spasms), and headaches (including migraines and tension-type headaches). The treatment of muscles often has the greatest effect on reducing pain mechanisms in the nervous system.
Is the procedure painful?
Most patients do not feel the insertion of the needle; however, a local twitch response elicits a very brief (less than a second) painful response. Some patients describe this as a “little electric shock,” while others feel more of a “cramping” sensation. A therapeutic response can occur with the elicitation of local twitch responses, which are a good and desirable reaction.
How long does the procedure take to work?
Typically, it takes several visits for a positive reaction to take place. This time frame is required to allow mechanical and biochemical changes without any pharmacological means. Therefore, treatment seeks a cumulative response to achieve a certain threshold after which the pain cycle is disturbed.