I HATE the word "Needle"
Updated: May 8, 2020
So by now I am sure most of you have heard friends or family members mention the words “dry needling”, but are not sure what it is exactly, if it hurts or if you are a good candidate? I know most of you are also intimidated by the word “Needle”. But I promise using the word “Needle” does such an injustice! These so called “Needles” are the size of two or three human hairs! So small! It would take 20-30 of these needles to equal a trigger point injection needle your doctor uses to insert Lidocaine/cortisone. The research is even showing that it is not the lidocaine or cortisone that relieves the trigger point, but the act of the needle entering the trigger point! And how many people are willing to have a cortisone injection?? A LOT!! I dunno about you, but I would rather have the smaller needle with no outside medication to release my pain for good, then one of the larger ones, which are temporary!
The big question I get all the time is; is it like acupuncture? No it is not! Dry needling and acupuncture are two very different treatments with different ideologies. They do use similar needles so I can see why it gets confusing. I am not able to talk much about acupuncture other then it is based off of traditional Chinese medicine. They use meridian points (points across the body that correspond with the path through which your life-energy known as “qi” flows) throughout the body to help improve the flow of energy and reset your body’s natural balance.
Dry needling on the other hand, is an intramuscular treatment approach that helps to eliminate trigger points and tight restrictions in the muscles. The theory behind dry needling is to go directly into the muscle in order to release the “knot” that is causing your neck or shoulder pain, ect. Dry needling really has some amazing and almost instant results.
Research has proven that trigger points work very closely with your central nervous system (the network of nerves that controls the activities of your body). For those of you with chronic pain and fibromyalgia, your body is in a constant state of inflammation that just can’t catch a break. Trigger points aide in that inflammation and pain input. Research has proven that trigger points are one of the main causes for flare ups in people with fibromyalgia and chronic pain. When a noxious stimulus (unpleasant/irritating stimulus) is put on the body, like a trigger point, it sends a signal to the central nervous system to investigate. In these individuals, their threshold for tolerating pain is much less because they have constant stressors nagging at the central nervous system all the time. So because this pain threshold is lower, it now no longer takes much to aggravate the body. Now something as gentle as light touch and you wearing your clothing can become painful.
With dry needling, we can get rid you of these trigger points that are “poking the bear” per say, and decrease the amount of pain you are in, increase your pain threshold and no longer be as sensitive to outside stimulus.
Who is a good candidate for Dry needling? Anyone with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, athletes, runners, your average joe and anyone with tightness from working all week.
When done in conjunction with physical therapy and exercise, the results are incredible! Typically, it takes only 4-5 sessions of dry needling to get rid of the restrictions causing all your pain. There are very minimal risks with dry needling and this will be discussed by the health care professional doing the dry needling.
Does it hurt? It can be uncomfortable when a trigger point is hit but it only lasts a few seconds to minutes depending on how stubborn the trigger point is. Most of the discomfort is a deep aching or twitching sensation which is the way you know the needle is in the correct spot. If there is no tightness or restrictions in the muscle, you feel nothing! So if we are doing our job correctly, it should be a bit uncomfortable. But it is temporary discomfort for long-term relief!
If this sounds like something you may be interested in or would like more literature/information to read, please feel free to contact us at Backinactionergo@gmail.com. Do not let your trigger points cause you pain any longer!
Alexandra Urban DPT, CMTPT, CEAS, HFS