What is dry needling?
Dry Needling is a general term for a therapeutic treatment procedure that involves multiple advances of a filament needle into the muscle in the area of the body, which produces pain and typically contains a ‘Trigger Point’. There is no injectable solution and typically the needle, which is used, is very thin. Most patients will not even feel the needle penetrate the skin, but once it has and is advanced into the muscle, the feeling of discomfort can vary drastically from patient to patient. Usually a healthy muscle feels very little discomfort with insertion of the needle; however, if the muscle is sensitive and shortened or has active trigger points within it, the subject may feel a sensation much like a muscle cramp — which is often referred to as a ‘twitch response’. The twitch response also has a biochemical characteristic to it, which likely affects the reaction of the muscle, symptoms, and response of the tissue. The patient may only feel the cramping sensation locally or they may feel a referral of pain or similar symptoms for which they are seeking treatment. A reproduction of their pain can be a helpful diagnostic indicator of the cause of the patient’s symptoms. Patients soon learn to recognize and even welcome this sensation as it results in deactivating the trigger point, thereby reducing pain and restoring normal length and function of the involved muscle. Typically positive results are apparent within 2-4 treatment sessions but can vary depending on the cause and duration of the symptoms and overall health of the patient. Dry needling is an effective treatment for acute and chronic pain, rehabilitation from injury, and even pain and injury prevention.
What are some common conditions that can be treated with dry needling?
The focus of the Functional Dry Needling is treatment for pain management, and orthopedic and sport related injuries.
The most common cause of nerve irritation and neuropathic pain is underlying spinal degeneration (i.e. spondylosis of the spine), which can be a result of trauma and/or normal wear and tear. Spondylosis irritates the nerve root and leads to neuropathy, which can result in muscle shortening. This process leads to pain and dysfunction in many common acute and chronic conditions. The introduction of a dry needle into the active trigger sites of these muscles can provide enormous relief of symptoms.
Dry Needling can also be used for spinal conditions in which the underlying pathology may have triggered a movement disorder. This can result in the presence of reduced ROM or pain due to abnormal muscle tone or spasms. Such conditions may include:
- Piriformis syndrome
- Cervico-genic issues
- Hamstring issues
Common lower extremity conditions treated with Functional Dry Needling include:
- Patellar Femoral Syndrome
- Patellar tendonitis
- Hamstring Strain
- Groin Strain
- Shin-splints, Compartment Syndrome
- Achilles tendonopathies
Common upper extremity conditions treated with Functional Dry Needling include:
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Lateral Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
- Medial Epicondylitis (golfers elbow)
- Impingement syndromes