Who can benefit from Dry Needling?
This is the amazing part—dry needling can be helpful for such a huge variety of issues, that it’s impossible to list them all. The most common conditions treated:
- Headaches- migraines and tension-type
- Acute muscle pain/strain
- Athletes: pain and/or weakness
- Chronic pain, fibromyalgia
- Pain, stiffness following mastectomy, lumpectomy
- Stiff / “frozen shoulder”
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Post-surgical pain
- Jaw / “TMJ” pain
- Pain from highly-repetitive movement e.g. factory-type work, musicians
How does dry needling work?
The exact mechanisms of dry needling are not known. There are mechanical and biochemical effects. Based on studies by Dr. Jay Shah and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health, we know that inserting a needle into trigger points can cause favorable biochemical changes, which assist in reducing pain. It is essential to elicit so-called local twitch responses, which are spinal cord reflexes. Getting local twitch responses with dry needling is the first step in breaking the pain cycle.
Is the procedure painful?
Most patients do not feel the insertion of the needle. The local twitch response elicits a very brief (less than a second) painful response. Some patients describe this as a little shock; others feel it more like a cramping sensation. Again, the therapeutic response occurs with the elicitation of local twitch responses and that is a good and desirable reaction.
What side effects can I expect after the treatment?
Most patients report being more sore after the procedure. The soreness is described as muscle soreness over the area treated and into the area referred symptoms. Typically, the soreness lasts between a few hours and two days.
How long does it take for the procedure to work?
Typically, it takes several visits for a positive reaction to take place. Again, we are trying to cause mechanical and biochemical changes without any pharmacological means. Therefore, we are looking for a cumulative response to achieve a certain threshold after which the pain cycle is disturbed.
Once I am feeling better, how often do I need to come back to maintain my progress?
The musculoskeletal system is under constant pressure from gravity, stress, work etc. A regular exercise program combined with good posture can prevent many problems. If the pain comes back, “tune-ups” are recommended to treat and prevent serious injuries.
Why is my doctor not familiar with dry needling?
In the US, dry needling is a relatively new method for treating myofascial pain and not everyone is already aware of this effective modality. Feel free to inform your doctor about this treatment option. It is upon all of us to educate others about new and innovative ways to treat pain.
Where does dry needling fit in the entire rehabilitation program?
Generally speaking, dry needling is the modality of choice when it comes to treating patients in the clinic. More frequently, dry needling is needed in the beginning in order to break the pain cycle. Once that is achieved, other treatment actions are introduced.