What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is an effective treatment for muscles that are sore and tense, as they often have tender spots in them that are called trigger points, commonly known as “knots”. It is these points that are the focus of a dry needling treatment, also known as, intramuscular stimulation (IMS).
The treatment consists of the use of very fine filament needles inserted directly into the trigger points to improve the ability of the muscle to contract and release, and thus improving the function of surrounding joints, nerves and vessels.
Dry needling is an effective and efficient technique for the treatment of muscular pain and myofascial dysfunction to clear trigger points in both spinal and peripheral areas of the body.
Is Dry Needling a Form of Acupuncture?
Dry needling may easily be confused with the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique of acupuncture but is very different. Dry needling is based on Western anatomical and neurophysiological principles, whereas acupuncture is based on centruries-old TCM. However, because the same very fine needles are used in both dry needling and acupuncture, it may appear on the surface to be very similar.
What Conditions does Dry Needling Help? How does it work?
The primary aim of dry needling is to relieve muscle pain, tightness, and cramping, but it may also help to improve flexibility. Your practitioner starts by inserting a short, very fine stainless steel needle into a trigger point or cramped muscle, and may leave it there for a few minutes, or remove it right away.
Dry needling complements manual therapy by relieving muscle tension and pain due to a number of reasons:
- Postural strains
- Repetitive strains
- Sports injuries
An American study published in 2013 showed that dry needling was more effective than a placebo treatment.
Does Dry Needling Hurt?
The needles used in dry needling are very fine and therefore everyone’s perception of the sensation of dry needling is different. Some people may feel a slight sensation or pinging feeling. Others report feeling quite relaxed as the dry needling takes effect. The common descriptions of sensations felt are…
- Muscle twitching,
- Slight prick or dull ache,
- Pulsating sensation,
- Or, no sensation at all.
However, when patients do experience these signs they typically subside quickly, often resulting in an overall decrease in symptoms.
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