What is dry needling?
Dry needling, sometimes called intramuscular stimulation, is a treatment to manage neuromuskuloskeletal pain. It is performed by a certified physical therapist in which the therapist inserts a thin monofilament needle into muscles, tendons, ligaments or fascia. The procedure itself is minimally discomforting and significantly effective at treating painful trigger points in the body like in the shins, shoulders, neck, hips and back.
The goal is to help reduce pain, decrease muscle tightness, inactivate trigger points and restore function and range of motion for our patients. This is why this method is often used to treat sports injuries, muscle pain, and even fibromyalgia pain. However, this is not a stand alone procedure, but rather used in conjunction with other physical therapy modalities to achieve our patients’ therapy goals.
What is involved in a dry needling session?
You will be evaluated by a specialty-trained physical therapist. The therapist will determine the area of the body that needs treatment as well as the technique that will help you achieve the best results.
Treatment time can vary depending on the dry needling technique. In and out techniques like pistoning or sparrow pecking involve pricking the trigger point and are subsequently removed. Non-trigger point techniques involve placing the dry needles around the area of pain and working with a larger part of the central nervous system.
Treatment is usually followed up with heat or ice, e-stim, and/or specific exercises to re-train the affected muscles.
The most common side effects are bruising, temporary bleeding and soreness.
What diagnoses can be treated through dry needling?
◊ Neck pain and upper extremity radicular symptoms (numbness and tingling in hands and/or arm)
◊ Shoulder Impingement
◊ Tennis Elbow
◊ Low Back Pain
◊ Plantar Fasciitis
◊ Patellofemoral Pain
◊ Achilles Tendinosis
Please note that this is not an extensive list. Your therapist will be able to advise you to determine if your particular diagnoses will benefit from dry needling.
How is dry needling different from acupuncture?
It is is also important to note that dry needling is different than acupuncture. Dry needling is a modern treatment and part of Western medicine designed to stimulate trigger points and irritated muscles, whereas acupuncture is part of Eastern medicine designed to relieve pain and discomfort by opening up a persons energy flow.
While acupuncture is rarely covered by insurance, dry needling is covered by insurance when performed as part of a physical therapy treatment! If you are a self-pay patient, then it will be $10 per visit to add dry needling to your treatment.