Dry needling is a treatment technique, in which small filament type needles are inserted into myofascial trigger points (known as painful knots in muscles), tendons, ligaments, or near nerves in order to stimulate a healing response with the goal of permanently reducing pain and dysfunction. It has been shown that our bodies can develop areas of hypersensitivity and tightness as a response to various stresses i.e. postural, repetitive movements, psychological, emotional etc. These areas are most likely to develop along tissues that are dysfunctional due to interruption of the nerves that innervate them. This can be caused from nerve compression in the extremity or spine from such things as disc injuries, facet joint dysfunction, vascular compression, metabolic stress or biomechanical stress. When trigger points are present, they cause the muscles they are in to neurologically tighten which serves to further disrupt the normal functioning of that muscle due to increased pain and local compression of vascular structures and nerves. Certified Physical Therapists are now using this technique around the world to effectively treat acute and chronic orthopedic and neuro-musculoskeletal conditions. It is called “dry” needling because no solution is injected into the tissue, as is the case with an injection with a hypodermic needle.
Dr. Keesee is certified in Dry Needling through the Spinal Manipulation Institute.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How does dry needling work?
When the fine, hair-like needle is inserted into the trigger point, a local twitch response (LTR) is elicited. This LTR is a quick contraction reflex of the muscle that is both diagnostic and therapeutic and is the first step in breaking the pain cycle. Research has shown that when the LTR is elicited, the tissue will have a decreased muscle contraction, reduced chemical irritation and improved flexibility. This can often immediately improve range of motion, improve function and decrease or eliminate pain. Needles can also be placed into other tissues including tendons, ligaments, scars or near nerves depending on the patients individual diagnosis or pathology.
Is Dry Needling (DN) the same as Acupuncture?
DN is not acupuncture or Oriental Medicine. DN is a treatment that uses solid filament, disposable acupuncture needles, but that is where the similarity to acupuncture stops. Dry Needling is based on Western medical research and principles, whereas acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine in which the purpose is to alter the flow of energy (“Qi”) along traditional Chinese meridians for the treatment of diseases. The theoretical backgrounds for the two treatments are very different. In fact, DN is a modern, science-based intervention for the treatment of pain and dysfunction in musculoskeletal conditions throughout the body. DN directly treats the neuromuscular system affecting muscle tightness, joint mobility, and symptoms of pain and irritation.Can Dry Needling help my condition?
Does Dry Needling Hurt?
Each patient describes the processes of being needled differently depending on what tissues are being treated. Typically, patients report not feeling the needle actually penetrate the skin and to most, the treatment is painless. Patients most likely will feel a deep cramping of the muscle that the needle was inserted into along with some involuntary muscle jumps/twitches. This is called the local twitch response (LTR) and means that we are positively affecting the desired tissue. As the needle stays in the tissue, theses sensations subside and more times than not, the patient is no longer aware that the needles are even still inserted.Dry Needling can help almost all neuromuscular conditions.
Dry Needling, combined with manual physical therapy treatment, can help the following conditions:
- Acute and chronic tendonitis
- Athletic and sports-related overuse injuries
- Post-surgical pain
- Post-traumatic injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and work related injuries
- Chronic pain conditions
- Headaches and whiplash
- Lower back pain
- Frozen Shoulder
- Tennis Elbow
- Muscle Spasms
- Sciatic Pain
- Hip Pain
- Knee Pain
- Repetitive Strain Injuries
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Many other musculoskeletal conditions . . .
Please note: Dry Needling is just one modality which may be used in conjunction with the variety of other manual therapy treatments and exercises, prescribed by our Physical Therapist’s to restore you to optimal physical function. DN is only one component of a multidimensional treatment approach, geared at creating a successful outcome for you. As Physical Therapist’s, we address various nueromusculoskeletal conditions such as biomechanical muscle imbalances, postural dysfunctions, muscular flexibility limitations, strength deficits, swollen or stiff joints, and many other conditions . . . all conditions which may require much more than just Dry Needling.
How fast can I expect to see results?
Results may vary, but many of our patients notice an improvement after just one session.
Dry Needling Resource Paper produced by the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association)