The term physical therapy refers to a broad spectrum of treatments and activities. While some may initially begin physical therapy following an injury, it is also used to treat illnesses or impairments that are inherent to a person’s makeup from the moment they are born. Physical therapy has expanded and grown over the decades, coming to take on a variety of different treatments. One treatment that has been gaining a lot of attention recently for the treatment of muscle pain is dry needling. What is dry needling? Let’s address some of the most frequently asked questions about this form of therapy.
How Does Dry Needling Work?
When you first hear about a physical therapy company offering dry needling, it is understandable if you feel confused. It does not sound particularly enticing at first. Yet there are many within the world of sports physio who support it and with good reason. You may also hear it being referred to as Trigger Point Needling and it is known for being cost-effective. Dry needling is most often used to treat myofascial pain and dysfunction. This type of pain, appropriately referred to by some as trigger point pain, is essentially centered on muscle tightness, which then causes pain in the trigger points of the body. A trigger point is a tight band within a muscle fiber that can disrupt function and limit an individual’s range of motion. It can also cause pain in different points of the body while causing local tenderness. Dry needling involves a physical therapist taking a monofilament needle, which is quite tiny, and piercing the skin to treat trigger point pain. The needle can reduce the banding of the muscle and stimulate blood flow. This reduces pain and tenderness and promotes muscle relaxation.
Is Dry Needling Painful Or Dangerous?
While you may feel a very minimal amount of discomfort during a dry needling session, the needles used are not invasive. The sensation that you may feel during a dry needling session likely will not be as severe as the pain you may feel during a particularly strenuous workout. It is not a dangerous treatment though it should only be done by a licensed physical therapist at a reputable physical therapy company. Usually, dry needling will not be used alone and will be performed in conjunction with other physical therapy treatments on a broad spectrum. The goal behind it is to reduce pain and inactivate trigger points so that you are able to function and expand your range of motion.
Is Dry Needling The Same Thing As Acupuncture?
There are a lot of reasons why dry needling and acupuncture are different procedures. A physical therapist performing dry needling has an entirely different function and training than an acupuncturist. While acupuncture is based in Eastern medicine and traditions, dry needling is based on Western medicinal techniques. It is strongly based on the evaluation of posture, pain patterns, movement impairments, and function as well as orthopedic tests. If you have tried acupuncture in the past, you should not assume that it has the same results as dry needling would.
As effective as dry needling can be for sports injuries and other issues, like many procedures, it is only as effective as its practitioner. Be mindful when deciding on a physical therapy company to work with and you will be set up for success.