Dry needling is a safe and effective treatment used to manage pain associated with trigger points, which are painful knots of muscle. The treatment, commonly carried out by a skilled physical therapist, aims to contract knotted muscles, so they can relax. Dry needling reduces pain and many other symptoms, such as movement impairments.
Trigger points can cause a number of problems, including pain and discomfort, a restricted range of motion, reduced function, referred pain, and localized tenderness that feels sore when touched. Trigger points can develop from factors including overuse, lack of use, or trauma to the tissue. Trigger points can often lead to pain in other areas of the body. For instance, a trigger point in the upper back may cause pain to radiate to the head, neck, and shoulder.
How Treatment Works
Dry needling involves inserting a hair-thin monofilament needle, similar to an acupuncture needle, into the tight band of tissue within the affected muscle – the trigger point. The needle is gently manipulated to depolarize the tissue and removed after a short period of time. The process may be repeated in trigger points in other parts of the body, if necessary.
Benefits of Dry Needling
There are many benefits of having dry needling, but the five main reasons to try it include:
Improve Physical Function
When a trigger point is targeted during the dry needling process, it helps to release the metabolic waste chemicals, including lactic acid, that may have built up inside the muscle tissue. Once this buildup has been removed, it improves the flow of oxygenated blood to the affected area, which helps to relieve pain and promote healing, reducing the tightness and knotting in the muscle. This in turn restores function, allowing you to get back to your normal level of physical activity without pain or discomfort.
Effective Pain Relief
Dry-needling can help to reduce the need for pain-relief medications and other modalities. Patients with trigger points often experience referred pain such as headaches, back pain, neck pain, and jaw pain, which may require pain relief such as over-the-counter pain relief medication. Dry needling is an effective way to reduce pain symptoms and improve function, minimizing the need for medication and more invasive types of treatment.
With dry needling, no medication or solution is injected into the skin, hence the term “dry” needling. The needle simply pierces the skin to target specific tissue underneath.
Can Be Used in Conjunction with Other Therapeutic Treatments
Dry needling is often used in conjunction with other forms of physical therapy treatment in order to get optimal results. It may be accompanied by exercise, massage, hands-on manual therapy, and heat therapy, and as part of a pain management program. Dry needling may also be used to help make other movement therapies more effective, such as targeting trigger points within a runner’s hamstrings in order to improve their running gait.
In many cases, dry needling is used to address myofascial pain and muscle tightness in muscle tissue that is not easily manually manipulated with other physical therapy techniques, such as therapeutic massage. Treatment may also be carried out on trigger points that are not yet causing obvious pain, known as latent trigger points, which can be vulnerable to becoming problematic if left untreated.
Treat A Variety of Conditions
Dry needling can help treat patients suffering from musculoskeletal tension, pain, and movement impairments. It has been found to be an effective form of treatment for chronic pain and symptoms associated with a variety of different conditions, including:
- Herniated discs
- Knee pain
- Muscle strains
- Nerve disorders
- Plantar fasciitis
- Rotator cuff syndrome
- TMJ disorder
Precise, Targeted Treatment
In order to carry out dry needling effectively, your physical therapist will carry out a thorough assessment of your muscles and areas of tightness. This allows them to develop a map of the precise locations to be targeted for the treatment. Dry needling utilizes the fewest number of needles necessary to effectively treat the targeted muscles.
Although there may be some discomfort with the initial muscle contraction or twitch response, any pain or discomfort that is experienced is typically minor. Soreness typically subsides within two hours to two days following treatment.
Dry Needling in Round Rock and Austin, TX
If you are interested in finding out how dry needling can benefit you, speak to the experienced physical therapists at Endeavor Physical Therapy & Wellness. We offer a comprehensive range of physical therapy services for a wide range of orthopedic injuries and conditions.