What is dry needling?
Dry needling is a relatively new and highly effective treatment that has brought real pain relief and deep healing to many people.
Dry needle therapy can be very effective in treating a range of conditions including chronic muscle pain, neuromuscular problems, and sports injuries.
It’s called dry needling simply to highlight the fact that no fluids are injected through the needles.
Dry needling looks like traditional Chinese acupuncture and our trained dry needle therapy podiatrists use the same kind of fine sterile needles but there are fundamental differences in the way dry needling and acupuncture work.
How does dry needling work?
A dry needle therapy practitioner uses microfine (around 0.3mm wide) needles to release trigger points of tension and pain in muscles at the myofascial, muscle and periosteal levels.
In simple terms; a foreign element (the needle) causes the muscle to relax around painful nerve points (trigger points) in taut muscle bands.
As this relaxation occurs, muscle compression eases, and this in turn leads to a significant or complete reduction in pain and greatly improved muscle or joint function.
Dry needling also increases blood flow and oxygenation around inflamed muscle cells. This in turn aids the removal of lactic acid that has built up in painful and inflamed areas.
Dry needling also stimulates the release of pain-killing endorphins and cortisol to help reduce inflammation and speed the healing process.
In some ways you could liken dry needling to the hands of a deep tissue massage, probing deep into the soft tissue.
But in dry needle therapy the needles target the problem areas in a highly precise way.
Who and what does it help?
Dry needling is highly effective and safe to use with all ages. Dry needling is perfect for treating and even completely eliminating bunions, restoring joint mobility, releasing muscle imbalances and nerve impingements associated with arthritic hip, knees and feet and generally improving joint range of movement in the elderly.
Dry needling is also a treatment of choice for children with gait issues and biomechanical abnormalities.
Dry needle therapy is highly effective for sports injuries and can also help optimize performance and alleviate muscle imbalances for elite athletes.
In fact, dry needling can alleviate many of the underlying causes of a wide range of muscular and skeletal problems and other painful conditions including:
- Hip bursitis
- Sciatica / hip bursitis
- Heel spurs
- Shin splints
- Arthritic hip knees and feet
As a result of the relaxation of painful muscle trigger points the joints are able to function with the proper range of movement and this improves overall body function as well.
This is why dry needling is such a great option for treating biomechanical abnormalities.
Many patients report additional benefits too, including better sleep, as a result of better overall body function and pain reduction.
Why choose dry needling over other treatments?
With so many treatments available why would you choose dry needling?
Well apart from being incredibly effective there are a number of reasons why dry needling might be the perfect solution for you.
Dry needling is a great choice for many people because it:
- Is less invasive—the minimal skin contact can be important especially for people who have highly sensitive skin or where the area is too painful for more physical manipulation
- Offers immediate relief—most people experience almost instant relief of symptoms
- Is quick—the needles are only inserted for a very brief period but the stimulation will continue to help the trigger points release and heal after your session
- Requires minimal time off work
Dry needling is often used as part of a whole treatment package and this will depend on your unique problems and the way your body responds to treatment.
Your friendly experts at Erica Dash Podiatry will discuss the appropriate recommended practices with you.
Will it hurt?
No, generally there should be no significant pain or discomfort associated with dry needling.
When the needles are inserted you might feel some mild tingling or twitching for few seconds.
In fact, this twitch response is a good sign. These sensations are the result of the trigger points releasing the pain causing tension in the problem areas.
People usually experience significant pain relief and improved muscle function in the area immediately following the removal of the needle.
Some people may feel a little muscle soreness for a few hours afterwards but this will probably be no worse than what you would feel after some vigorous exercise.
What’s the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?
On the surface dry needling looks just like acupuncture. Yes, both types of treatment use the same type of needles and both require trained practitioners to administer the treatment.
But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that there are some significant differences between acupuncture and dry needling.
Acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine and dates back some 3,000 years.
Acupuncture works with the energy channels or meridians and Chi (energy) and the practitioner uses needles to release blockages that prevent that energy flowing freely through the body.
Because the meridians are all interconnected and run throughout the body, it is possible to treat a problem without actually putting needles into the specific region of pain.
Acupuncture is frequently used to treat digestive problems, blood pressure, anxiety and other difficulties that may be less physical in nature.
Even though the two modalities may use some of the same points and the same needles, dry needling is firmly based on a Western medical and science-based approach.
Dry needling dates back to the 1940’s and acts on specific trigger points or knots in muscles and soft tissue.
Dry needling grew out of the practice of injecting painful muscles with corticosteroids and analgesics.
Research showed that the benefits were actually due to the intramuscular stimulation by the needles and not the drugs.
Today, a growing body of research is supporting the use of dry needle therapy as a treatment of choice.
At Erica Dash Podiatry our expert staff are engaged in a constant search for the best treatment options available.
Dry needle therapy is just another part of our commitment to making sure you get the best, most effective treatment for your needs.