What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a procedure that osteopaths and other qualified healthcare professionals utilise to address musculoskeletal pain and movement problems. It is almost always employed as a part of a larger pain management plan that typically includes massage, exercise, and other methods. A professional will use tiny, pointed needles to treat your myofascial trigger points underneath your skin during this procedure.
“Myo” stands for “muscle” in the word “myofascial.” The thin, white connective tissue that surrounds your muscles is called fascia.
Your muscles can develop knotted, painful areas called trigger points. Touching these trigger points can cause pain due to their high sensitivity. A trigger point can sometimes be close to the area of pain. However, they often contribute to referred pain. Pain that affects another area of your body is referred pain.
Osteopaths apply needles to your trigger points to relieve them. Your muscles and tissues experience less tightness, more blood flow, and less local and referred pain when dry needling is applied. The needles used by the providers are strong and free of any form of medication. Because of this, the method is referred to as “dry.” There are no injections applied to your body. Injections into trigger points are different. They are performed by a practitioner and contain medicine.
Dry needling is sometimes referred to as trigger point dry needling or intramuscular stimulation.
The process of dry needling
Your muscle experiences an energy crisis when it is overused, which results in insufficient blood flow to the muscle fibers. Without a normal blood supply, your muscles are deprived of the oxygen and nutrients necessary for them to return to their normal resting state.
The tissue next to your trigger point becomes more acidic as a result of this. Because of the sensitisation of your nerves, the area is painful and sore.
A trigger point can be stimulated with a needle to enable normal blood flow, which helps to clear the area and reduce tension. As a result of the prick, your brain can be stimulated to release endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers.
Your therapist will place a needle through your skin and directly into a trigger point after they identify it. They may slightly adjust the needle in order to trigger a muscle spasm known as a local twitch response. This reaction indicates that your muscle is responding.
After a dry needling treatment, some clients experience almost immediate relief in their pain and mobility. Some people require more than one session.
Is dry needling painful?
It is usually painful when trigger points are touched. As a result, while your provider is detecting the trigger point prior to needling, you can feel some pain.
During the needling, you can experience some pain. Sometimes people don’t feel it go in because the needle is very small, but other times they feel a prick. The trigger point can be painful and create a twitch response when the needle is pricked. After some time, you can feel tightness or pain near the place of insertion, but it’s crucial to keep moving and stretching.
Why use Dry Needling?
Dry needling may be helpful in relieving pain and improving range of motion. The conditions that may be treated with dry needling include:
- Joint problems.
- Disk problems.
- Tension-type headaches and migraines.
- Issues with the jaw and mouth, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
- Repetitive movement disorders, like carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Spinal problems.
- Pelvic pain.
- Night pain.
- Postherpetic neuralgia, a side effect of shingles.
- Phantom limb pain.
Who should not undergo dry needling treatments?
Dry needling is inappropriate for certain people. Because the treatment can be painful, providers do not advise this process for children under the age of 12. It will be necessary for both you and your child to give consent, so look into less invasive alternatives first. The following individuals should consult with their doctor before getting dry needling:
- Pregnant women
- One who is unable to understand the treatment.
- One who has a severe fear of needles (trypanophobia).
- One who has a weakened immune system.
- One who has recently undergone surgery
- Use blood thinners
What are the advantages of dry needling?
Dry needling offers several advantages when it’s part of your overall treatment plan. The treatment is typically regarded as safe. If carried out by a trained provider, there is a low risk of complications.
According to research, dry needling can help you release your trigger points and reduce your muscle stiffness and pain. Your flexibility and range of motion may both improve after releasing your trigger points.
Side Effects of Dry Needling
Dry needling has a common side effect of soreness that is caused at the time of treatment and following it. Most other side effects are minimal and may include:
- Bruising at or close to the insertion site.
Additionally, there is a possibility of infection. It’s critical to ensure that your practitioner has undergone proper training.
Serious side effects are quite uncommon. If you notice bleeding at the insertion site, apply strong pressure and get in touch with your provider or doctor. A collapsed lung or pneumothorax could result from the needling if it is done in your thoracic region. Despite being extremely rare, this needs additional care and a chest X-ray.
A Brief Note
People with certain musculoskeletal disorders can greatly benefit from dry needling, which is a safe, minimally painful treatment. The treatment has significantly improved the quality of life for many patients, who have found it to be a game-changer. However, before receiving therapy, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider. Although safe, it is an invasive process. Your doctor may suggest a more conservative course of treatment.