You may wonder what a dry needle is and why you’d consider such a procedure. So, let’s start with a few explanations.
For starters, it’s called dry needling because the needle isn’t used to inject any medication. It’s literally dry. The needling part refers to the technique, which uses the same needles inserted during acupuncture. These needles are different from those used for injections. They’re quite thin, flexible, and specially designed to glide into your body with little to no pain.
Most importantly, dry needling works. It effectively relieves pain caused by trigger points, especially when the procedure is performed by the extensively trained and experienced team at Prolete Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine.
Dry needling targets painful muscles
Dry needling resembles acupuncture, but it follows a different principle. Acupuncture restores the flow of energy by focusing on numerous acupoints all over your body.
By comparison, dry needling can target nearly every part of your body, but it specifically focuses on trigger points in your muscles and fascia, the connective tissue covering your muscles. Trigger points are small areas in muscles and fascia that contract and don’t relax, creating a knot that’s painful and restricts movement.
Trigger points are typically caused by:
- Repetitive muscle movements
- Sustained loading due to lifting weights or heavy items
- Direct injury to the muscle
- Poor posture
- Tense muscles
A prolonged muscle contraction also sensitizes the surrounding nerves, making the entire area painful and causing referred pain in other areas of your body.
Dry needling relaxes muscles and promotes healing
Dry needling effectively relieves pain through several mechanisms. During a dry-needling treatment, we gently insert a needle directly into the trigger point. The needle interrupts the contraction and your muscle relaxes.
Muscle relaxation is the top pain-relief mechanism, but it’s not the only effect of dry needling. The impact of the needle combined with muscle relaxation boosts blood flow to the area. With increased blood flow, the muscle receives fresh oxygen and nutrients for healing and the buildup of acidic chemicals is flushed away.
You may experience immediate pain relief, but everyone is different and it may take several days to achieve optimal results. Depending on the severity of the trigger point, some patients only need one treatment, while others need a series of dry-needling sessions.
Dry needling is part of a comprehensive treatment plan
Dry needling relieves pain by resetting muscle tone, but it’s only one part of larger pain management and rehabilitation plan. You may also need physical therapy to improve the strength and flexibility of the affected muscle or exercises to improve your posture.
In many cases, patients need a training program that restores muscle balance, especially those who devote time to training for a specific sport. If you focus on a limited group of muscles or movement skills to the exclusion of others, you may set yourself up for painful trigger points.
If you have questions about dry needling or you’d like to schedule an appointment at our Milford, Connecticut, office, call Prolete Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine or use the online booking feature today.