Should You Try Dry Needling?


Despite the fact that dry needling has been around for decades, it remains a relatively unknown and misunderstood therapy.
Is dry needling just another name for acupuncture? What conditions does dry needling help? Learn the answers to these questions and more as we address the 7 most frequently asked questions about dry needling therapy.
Dry needling is a specific treatment used to help with the alleviation of pain associated with muscle tension and spasms. It has proven highly effective over the last few decades with many chronic pain sufferers swearing by its positive effects.

Also known as trigger point therapy, there are numerous benefits to this lesser-known, yet highly therapeutic treatment. If you’d like to learn more about dry needling therapy, then just keep on reading…

Everything You Need to Know About Dry Needling

When a muscle becomes tense or worked up into a spasm, it forms what is known as trigger points. Trigger points are essentially the working material of dry needling therapists.

But if you’re wondering ‘what does dry needling do?’ and ‘does it really help to alleviate pain?’, read on.

1. What is Dry Needling?

So, why is it called ”dry” needling? This is because dry needling does not use any form of solution injected into the body, muscles or skin.

Instead, thin filament needles are inserted through the skin into specific trigger points which elicit a ”twitching” response. Essentially, this twitching kicks starts your body’s immune response to begin healing a painful, inflamed area.

The twitching also helps to increase blood flow in the affected area, helping with range-of-movement. Dry needling is one of the deepest tissue release therapies available today and is renowned for its pain relieving after effects.

Trigger point dry needling has proven to reduce muscle tension, improve range of motion and improve dysfunctions of motor-end plates and nerve impulses.

2. Is Dry Needling the Same as Acupuncture?

But wait, isn’t dry needling the same as acupuncture? It all sounds and looks very similar doesn’t it?

Don’t be fooled, these two treatments are different! Acupuncture is a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and is centuries old.

Acupuncture is solely focused on directing different forms of energy throughout the body.

Dry needling is a westernized form of medicine and nowhere near as ancient as acupuncture practice. While similar needles are used during both therapies, dry needling is solely focused on pain and tension release.

Acupuncture uses the body’s meridian pathways to target and direct energy, while dry needling is focused on particular muscular trigger points.

3. What Type of Conditions Can it Treat?

Dry needling is ideal for those who suffer from chronic, long-term pain caused by repeated stress or injury.

However, those with acute pain associated with temporary injury can also benefit from dry needling therapy. Very often those seeking the relief of dry needling therapy have undergone some form of manual physical therapy beforehand.

If these therapies have not helped, dry needling is often the next step when seeking pain and tension relief.

This form of physical therapy needling can benefit an assortment of conditions, including:

  • Chronic or long-term pain
  • Muscular strains
  • Ligament sprains
  • Neck pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Lower back pain
  • Sciatica nerve pain
  • Shoulder pain and frozen shoulder syndrome
  • Tennis and golfer’s elbow
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Athletic stiffness or strain
  • Hip and glute pain
  • Knee pain
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Headaches and migraines

For those in need of intense physical therapy, dry needling is recommended as a complementary therapy to other regular therapies.

4. Does Dry Needling Hurt?

Yes, dry needling does hurt to some degree, but the pain is only fleeting and should pass within seconds. Upon insertion of the needle into a specific trigger point you should feel an initial sting of pain, but this only lasts about a second.

The insertion of the dry needle should bring on a twitching response in the muscle, as previously mentioned. This can sometimes result in a dull, deep ache or a cramping sensation within the targeted muscle during the therapy session.

Post dry needling therapy your muscles may feel sensitive or ache. However, this is generally a good sign that the therapy has done its job!

5. What Kind of Needles Are Used During Dry Needling?

Dry needling makes use of sterilized, ultra-thin filiform needles which are designed to specifically penetrate your skin, down to the muscle. These needles are used to successfully stimulate myofascial trigger points in the muscles, as well as muscular and connective tissues.

These needles are ideal as they allow physical therapists to target such specific points within a muscle group which cannot otherwise be accessed.

During each session, a therapist is required to wear gloves and personal protective equipment to ensure a sterile working atmosphere. Used needles are then disposed of in a medical sharps collector.

6. What Can I Expect Post Treatment?

While some patients report relief from pain and tension after just one session, multiple sessions are best for maximum results.

It is definitely possible to experience a renewed range-of-motion after one dry needling session. Although consistent therapy is required to fully heal a chronic or long-term strain.

After each needling session, you will most likely feel sore and tender in both the treated muscle and surrounding area.

This tenderness can last a few hours or up to two days post-therapy. Pain can be alleviated with an ice pack or heat.

7. Am I Suitable for Dry Needling?

It’s important to note that not everyone is suited to dry needling therapy. It is considered an invasive therapy, so there are a few factors to keep in mind.

You may not be an ideal candidate for dry needling if you display any of these characteristics or symptoms:

  • You have an irrational fear or needles i.e. a needle phobia
  • If you have lymphedema
  • If you are pregnant, primarily if you’re in your first trimester
  • If you have a blood clotting or immune system disorder
  • If you are ill / fighting off an infection
  • If you are unable to sign with cognitive consent to the therapy, i.e. if you suffer from a mental disorder
  • If you under the age of 12 years old

However, if you suffer from chronic or acute muscle pain and you’re looking for the ideal treatment, dry needling could be it for you.

Interested in Dry Needling Treatment?

At Deep Relief Austin we are specialists in the treatment of pain through massage, dry needling, acupuncture, and chiropractic support.

If you’re looking for relief from pain caused by injury or repeat strain, our team is here to care for you.

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