What is Dry Needling Therapy?

July 14, 2020

dry needling therapy shoulder

dry needling therapy shoulderDry needling therapy may be a term you have never heard of before. It is a well-tolerated procedure that relieves pain immediately for North Boulder Physical Therapy patients. Dry needling is a therapeutic treatment that involves needles inserted into the problem area. A small sterile needle is used to deactivate trigger points and relax the muscle where the pain exists.

Dry needling is a popular technique used to treat skeletal muscle, connective tissue, and fascia to reduce or restore function leading to improved activity. Upon insertion, most patients don’t feel anything, but once it reaches the muscle, the discomfort will vary for each patient.

A healthy muscle will feel very little discomfort however if the muscle is contracted, the patient may feel a “cramp” or twitch response. This type of response has a biochemical characteristic which affects the reaction of the muscle and response of the tissue. With dry needling, it is thought that it induces a healing response in the muscle or tendon by creating inflammation. It is thought that dry needling may stimulate nerve fibers for as long as 72 hours after inserting the needle.

The expertise of the practitioner can also contribute to the variation of discomfort and outcome. Some patients may feel cramping in the insertion area while some patients feel similar symptoms to the symptoms they currently have. Patients soon learn to recognize this sensation, as it results in deactivating the trigger point, reducing any pain and restoring normal function to the muscle. Patients typically see positive results with 2-4 treatment sessions. This does vary however due to the overall health, physical age of the patient and the experience of the PT.

The most common areas that dry needling can help are:

  • Cervical spine for headaches and neck pain
  • Gluts and piriformis
  • Lumbar muscles and quads
  • Medial – Lateral Epicondyles
  • Plata fascia
  • Shoulder area
  • Achilles tendon
  • Groin strains – Hip abductors

After dry needling treatment, a functional assessment should be done. Once complete, the patient should be taught the proper home techniques to help with recovery. Stretches, heat application, and gentle pressure should be done to speak the healing process.

Dry needling is rarely used alone and should be part of a total physical therapy approach.

North Boulder Physical Therapy and Sports Rehabilitation physical therapists have the knowledge and skills to perform dry needling in a safe and comfortable environment. For patients fearful of needles, they will not be used, however, with a thorough explanation of the procedure and most patients are more comfortable with the use of needles.

Dry needling is an effective treatment for chronic and acute pain or rehabilitation from an injury. With very little side effects, this technique is the best choice for finding and eliminating neuromuscular problems that lead to pain. North Boulder Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation has the experience necessary to perform dry needling safely and effectively.