Millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain such as sciatica, knee pain, plantar fasciitis, and muscle aches, just to name a few. Finding relief for chronic pain is something almost every person suffering hopes and dreams of. For more and more sufferers from chronic pain, relief comes in the form of a procedure called dry needling.
You’ve probably heard of acupuncture to treat pain, but you may never have heard of dry needling, a technique used by physical therapists to treat neuromuscular ailments, help relieve and control pain, reduce muscle tension, improve a person’s range of motion, and provide a more speedy and active rehabilitation. Let’s find out more about what dry needling is, how it compares to acupuncture, and if dry needling may be a good option to treat your chronic pain.
What does dry needling entail?
Dry needling, otherwise known as myofascial trigger point release, is one of the more advanced treatments used by physical therapists to treat pain and movement impairments. It’s called dry needling because it uses a “dry” – in other words, without medication – needle, which is inserted into the muscle. Instead of medicine, the needle itself is the treatment.
How does dry needling differ from acupuncture?
Acupuncture, based on traditional Chinese medicine, is used as a complement to traditional Western medicine and is performed by acupuncturists. Dry needling, on the other hand, is part of modern Western medicine supported by a great deal of medical research, and is performed by a licensed physical therapist.
Still, you may be thinking the processes are pretty much the same. While it is true that both dry needling and acupuncture involve application of thin needles to help relieve pain, the treatments are actually quite different, the major differentiators being that dry needling uses needles to release tension from knots and pressure points in the muscles; acupuncture uses needles to release endorphins and affect change in the nervous system.
How does it work?
To understand dry needling, it helps to think of trigger points in your body. Trigger points are a tight band of skeletal muscles located within an even larger muscle group. During the dry needling treatment, the therapist slowly inserts acupuncture needles into a tight muscle, moves it around, then removes it shortly thereafter. This process is repeated in other muscles throughout the body, as needed. By stimulating a specific trigger point with the needle, the therapist can help stop your pain before it can travel to other parts of your body.
Can dry needling help me?
Dry needling can help patients who suffer from pain, especially chronic pain and ailments. People with pain in their neck, lower back, shoulders, muscles and ligaments, ankles and hamstrings all have benefited from dry needling. Likewise, dry needling has been used to successfully treat repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis and golfer’s elbow; as well as chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, plantar fasciitis, and sciatica pain.
The physical therapists and friendly staff at Endeavor Rehab Center in Texas are happy to answer any questions you may have about the dry needling procedure and whether it is a good option for your chronic pain. To request an appointment, call (512) 284-7192 or request an appointment online.