Dry needling is a technique that inserts stainless steel needles into the skin as a way of treating pain and muscle dysfunction. Often confused with acupuncture, dry needling actually works differently. Instead of relieving pain through opening the energy flow like acupuncture does, dry needling stimulates trigger points in knotted or hard muscles. Because of this method, dry needling is also sometimes referred to as intramuscular stimulation. Stimulating the muscle allows it to relax, increases blood flow to the area, and relieves both pain and spasms.
Did You Know?
The filiform needles used for dry needling do not inject fluid into the body and are considered to be “dry” needles. This is ultimately where the term dry needling came from.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can I benefit from dry needling?
You may benefit from dry needling treatment if your pain is caused by a muscular trigger point or spasm. A trigger point is defined as hard muscle that inhibits proper function, decreases range of motion, causes referred pain in other areas, and is tender to the touch.
In most cases, dry needling is performed as a supplemental treatment to physical therapy and is used to treat musculoskeletal issues in the neck, shoulder, back, hip, and heel. To find out if dry needling is right for you, schedule an appointment with Dr. Clouthier at Alternative Health Center of The Woodlands.
What can I expect when undergoing dry needling?
There are a few different techniques your doctor may use including:
Trigger point technique
This is the most commonly used dry needling technique. With this technique, filiform needles are applied into the trigger points of knotted muscles. They are then left in place for a designated period of time, usually 10-30 minutes.
With this technique, the needles will repetitively move in and out of the skin. When performing the in-and-out technique, your doctor will use varying speeds to continuously move the needle in and out of your skin. In this way, the trigger point is merely pricked. Because of the method used, this technique can also be referred to as pistoning or sparrow pecking.
Non-trigger point technique
This technique is centered around the theory that pain in one area is caused by the surrounding nerves and muscle tissue. Therefore, instead of placing needles into trigger points, needles are placed around the area of pain. These needles are then stimulated by a microcurrent machine to reduce spasm, inflammation, and pain.