Dry needling is becoming a popular technique performed by physical therapists to help their patients reduce pain. Although it uses the same type of needles as are used in acupuncture, they are very different techniques and are done for different reasons.
Whereas acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of therapy for the whole body, with the purpose of manipulating the body’s inner “energy flows,” dry needling is done based on research of pain relief. It focuses on relieving points of pain – specifically, to release pressure at certain trigger points. Acupuncture needles are also left in the body for a much longer period of time than are the needles used in dry needling.
The term “dry needling” reflects the fact that it is not an injection of a medicine. Rather, it is a very thin and fine filiform needle whose healing effects come from the needle treatment itself.
What Is Dry Needling Used For?
The first person to document the concept of trigger-point dry needling was Karel Lewit of Czechoslovakia circa 1979. Today’s practitioner of dry needling places the stainless steel fine filiform needles into “trigger points” in muscle or other superficial tissue in order to relieve pain.
The trigger points are determined by being tensed, knotted, and unresponsive to other methods. The needles are usually placed into the skin, then quickly withdrawn.
Note that the purpose of dry needling is to relieve pain and muscle issues, whereas acupuncture is thought to make the whole body work better – it’s not meant to specifically target pain. Dry needling is supported by science and research, whereas acupuncture is considered a method of facilitating good health of the body.
How Is Dry Needling Done?
There are different approaches in dry needling: One approach is to place the needles directly into the skin where the irritation or pain is located. Another approach is to place the needles around the point of pain. The thought of the latter group is that the pain is a result of a larger nerve or muscular issue, greater than the specific site of injury or pain.
Dry needling should only be performed by a trained physical therapist who is certified and experienced. There is no credentialing board for regulating this technique.
Experienced Physical Therapists in Austin
Our physical therapists at Endeavor Physical Therapy & Wellness are certified PTs who have extensive training in dry needling, and they have obtained postgraduate education and training. We understand the science behind dry needling, and we know how to treat our patients’ pain with the goal of a long-term reduction in pain.
Our therapists also offer specialized hand therapy for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, arthritis, and more. Our team is also well-versed in handling workers’ compensation claims for traumatic or repetitive-stress injuries that occurred while working.
If you live in the Austin, Texas area, contact our friendly team at Endeavor Physical Therapy & Wellness to schedule a consultation. You can call our main office at (512) 284-7192 or request an appointment online, and find out how we can help relieve your pain!