What Is Dry Needling?
According to the American Physical Therapists Association, dry needling is “a skilled intervention used by physical therapists that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments.”
While dry needling has been around for nearly 80 years, it was only recently approved as a treatment in Kansas’ Center Practice Act. ARC Physical Therapy+ now has 14 therapists trained and ready to offer dry needling to patients.
“We are excited to have so many skilled therapists providing dry needling as we continue to expand treatment options for patients,” Scott Jones, ARC Physical Therapy+ Director of Clinical Support Services said. “Dry needling has the opportunity to improve outcomes for many patients who suffer from significant pain, and we hope those patients will consider this as a valuable offering to complement other physical therapy treatments they are receiving.”
How Does It Work?
By targeting pain points with a very thin needle to fatigue the muscle, dry needling can be used to relieve consistent muscle pain.
The procedure typically lasts around 15 minutes and treats 1-2 muscles. Most patients experience little to no pain, and many even find the experience to be relaxing.
Following the procedure, your therapist will:
- Provide instructions for stretching to take care of the pain point
- Recommend icing the area after treatment
- Advise that you can expect to have some bruising and soreness following the treatment
This Sounds Like Acupuncture… Is It the Same?
Dry needling is sometimes compared to acupuncture, but while there are a few similarities (most notably the type of needle), they are very different treatments.
While both share roots in eastern medicine, modern dry needling uses principles of western neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the muscles and nervous system to treat pain, whereas acupuncture is centered around influencing energy and meridians.
Who Can Benefit from Dry Needling?
At ARC Physical Therapy+, we recommend dry needling to be used in conjunction with other therapy techniques for a holistic approach to treating both acute and chronic issues, such as:
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Tendonitis or tendinopathy
- Muscle strains
- IT band syndrome
- Patellofemoral dysfunction
- Neck pain or headaches
- Rotator cuff impingement
- SI joint dysfunction
ARC Physical Therapy+ physical therapist Diana Dickey first learned of the treatment during preparations for a mission trip to Haiti and was impressed with what she saw.
“I had it performed on me and was amazed to receive six months of relief for something that had bothered me for 25 years,” Diana said. “Once we were in Haiti, people would come to our clinic in visible pain and within minutes we could treat them and see a huge difference as the pain lifted from their bodies.”
Dry needling is not recommended for patients recovering from recent surgery, and be sure to tell your therapist if you have needle phobia, are pregnant or on a blood thinner, as this may not be the right treatment option for you.
How Can Dry Needling Help Workers Recovering from Injuries?
For workers suffering from job-related injuries, dry needling may help improve function and decrease pain, which may ultimately reduce time off work and speed up recovery time.
Dry needling can be part of a holistic workers’ compensation treatment plan for injuries. Here are a few of the common injuries we treat using dry needling:
- Rotator cuff tears
- Shoulder pain and frozen shoulder
- Back pain
- Neck pain including whiplash
- Hip pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Patellar or knee pain
- Tennis elbow
- Shin splints
- Nerve entrapments
- Achilles tendinitis
- Tennis elbow
“By reducing pain, the patient feels better and can move more easily,” physical therapist Mindi Lozenski, said. “This can improve the overall recovery process, boosting mental wellbeing, increasing adherence to rehabilitation and creating a better long-term prognosis for the patient.”
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