What is Dry Needling or Needle Therapy?
Dry Needling or Needle Therapy is a way to treat chronic pain conditions in which a physical therapist makes use of filament needles which he or she inserts through the skin into the affected muscle for trigger point release. Dry Needling or Needle Therapy causes release of tight tissues that are located deep within resulting in improvement of pain.
This therapy gets its name due to a dry needle being used for treatment instead of the conventional needles with solution in them. Dry Needling or Needle Therapy acts as both diagnostic and therapeutic. Talking about the working mechanism of Dry Needling or Needle Therapy, whenever there is an injury due to overuse, trauma, or inflammation with resultant tissue damage, the tissues go into a guarded state to prevent it from further damage. This results in less oxygen and blood reaching the injured tissue and thus the injury site becomes deprived of adequate oxygen. As the injury site is deprived of enough oxygen this results in development of scar tissue.
The formation of scar tissue over the injury site limits the function of the tissues and muscles over the injury site and may also cause irritation or compression of the nerves causing pain. All of this inflammation and scar tightness of the tissues at the injury site is relieved by Dry Needling or Needle Therapy.
How is Dry Needling or Needle Therapy Done?
Coming to how is Dry Needling or Needle Therapy done, the physical therapist will use a solid filament needle and insert it into the tight and contracted muscle which creates a local twitch response. This acts as both diagnostic and therapeutic and helps in breaking up of the pain cycle by decreasing the muscle tightness and contraction and improve flexibility of the muscles, and improve irritation of the nerves.
When the needle is inserted within the muscle it digs deep into the muscle by cutting the muscle fibers which then activates an inflammatory response as the body treats the needle as a foreign substance entering the body. This results in an inflammatory reaction to which the body responds and there is overall reduction of inflammation and pain.
Benefits of Dry Needling or Needle Therapy
There are quite a number of benefits of Dry Needling or Needle Therapy. They are minimally invasive and do not require use of any medications which tend to have significant side effect profile. Additionally, the relief of pain from Dry Needling or Needle Therapy is significantly more than the normal means of treatment.
In cases of conditions like chronic pain conditions and carpal tunnel syndrome Dry Needling or Needle Therapy provides pain relief for a longer period of time than the conventional treatment for these conditions. In the treatment of headaches, Dry Needling or Needle Therapy is beneficial because it helps an individual avoid excessive use of preventive and abortive medications which may produce some undesirable side effects.
Another benefit of Dry Needling or Needle Therapy is its usefulness in treating back and neck pain which may take a long time to go away with conventional methods of treatment. Similarly, pain caused due to hip and knee conditions and muscle spasms can also be effectively treated with Dry Needling or Needle Therapy.
Side Effects of Dry Needling or Needle Therapy
There are minimal to no side effects from Dry Needling or Needle Therapy. At most, an individual may experience muscle soreness or minor skin bruising after a Dry Needling or Needle Therapy. Apart from this, there are no reported side effects from Dry Needling or Needle Therapy.
Medical Conditions That Dry Needling or Needle Therapy Can Treat
Dry Needling or Needle Therapy is beneficial in treating a host of medical conditions which include but are not limited to:
- Pain caused due to neck and back conditions
- Shoulder Pain
- Tennis Elbow
- Hip Pain
- Knee Pain
- Achilles Tendonitis
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Muscle strains/sprains
- Chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia
- Pain caused due to overuse
- Additionally, athletes complaining of pain due to excessive use can also be treated successfully and can enhance their performance by Dry Needling or Needle Therapy.