What is Dry Needling? – Purpose, Benefits, and Usage

dry needling

The term “dry needling” may have caught your attention, and you may have questioned what it is exactly or whether it may be good for you. While the procedure’s name may sound daunting but dry needling is a safe, minimally invasive, and frequently successful therapy for patients with specific musculoskeletal presentations. 

Dry needling is a treatment performed by professional, qualified, and registered physical therapists. 

If someone has recommended you to try dry needling or if you are simply curious, this article will help you grasp everything you need to know about Dry Needling.

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling often referred to as trigger point dry needling and intramuscular stimulation, is a pseudoscientific treatment method that is applied by various healthcare professionals, including physical therapists, doctors, and chiropractors.

Acupuncturists generally believe that dry needling is an adaptation of acupuncture, whereas others see it as a version of trigger point injections.

A practitioner inserts numerous filiform needles into your skin during dry needling. Filiform needles are stainless steel needles that are fine, short, and do not inject fluid into the body. As a result, the term “dry” is adopted.

What is Trigger Point?

A trigger point is a tight band or local contracture in a muscle fibre that can impair function, limit the range of motion, or create local soreness. Dry needling can relieve banding or tightness, promotes blood flow, and reduces local and referred pain when performed on a disturbed muscle or trigger point.

What is its Purpose?

The needles are inserted into “trigger points” in your muscle or tissue by practitioners. The points are areas of knotted or stiff muscle. Dry needling practitioners claim that the needle helps in the release of knots as well as the relief of muscle pain and spasms.  The needles will only be on your skin for a short time. The duration varies depending on the practitioner. The following conditions can be treated by dry needling:
  • Disk issues
  • Problems with the jaw and mouth, such as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD)
  • Joint issues
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Migraine headaches and tension headaches
  • Pelvic discomfort
  • Whiplash
  • Post-herpetic neuralgia 
  • Limited range of motion
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome 
  • Scar-tissue build-up
  • Spinal issues
  • Tendonitis
  • Phantom pain

Benefits of Dry Needling

  • Relax Stiff Muscles: Dry Needling is similar to pressing the reset button on your muscles. Physiotherapists can detect these “knots” or “trigger points” and perform dry needling to help restore muscle length. The mechanism of action is unknown, however, it is considered to work by changing the electrical activity in the region, resulting in a twitch reaction. The muscle is successfully “reset” to its usual resting length.
  • Enhances Body’s Natural Healing Process: Inserting a sharp, thin needle into your body’s trigger points relaxes muscles, increases blood flow, reduces inflammation, and initiates a healing response.

This treatment also enhances nerve transmission and stimulates the release of natural pain relievers such as endorphins, which function as analgesics in your body. In simplified terms, this implies they reduce the sense of pain.

  • Improves Blood Circulation: Trigger points create muscle stiffness, which limits blood flow and therefore oxygen delivery. A shortage of oxygen might aggravate pain in the affected area. We can reduce the barrier to blood flow and promote oxygenation by using dry needling to deactivate trigger points in the muscle.
  • Muscle Extensibility and Contractility are improved: Again, the main factor to be credited is the deactivation of trigger points. Muscle spasms can be reduced and range of motion increased by relaxing tense bands within the muscle. 

Better recruitment and activation of the necessary muscles can be achieved by improved joint mechanics and with the use of the “twitch response.”

  • Treats both Acute and Chronic Pain: Dry needling can be used to treat both acute and chronic pain. It is used in combination with other treatments to effectively manage problems such as shoulder pain, back pain, neck pain, headaches, plantar fasciitis, tennis/golf elbow, sciatica, and others.
  • Improves Range of Motion: Patients who receive dry needling frequently experience an increase in their range of motion. Dry needling releases trigger points; increases blood flow, and reduces pain, resulting in better movement.

Contraindications and Risks

If you have an infection, you should avoid dry needling until the condition has entirely gone. Pregnant ladies, those who do not comprehend the objective of dry needling, and those who are scared of needles should avoid it.

If you are currently using blood thinners or have any of the following problems, consult your doctor before attempting dry needling to check if it is safe for you:

  • Disorders of Bleeding
  • Diabetes 
  • Weakened immune system
  • Epilepsy
  • Lymphedema
  • Vascular disorder

Dry needling is generally regarded as safe when performed with sterile needles. A person is at risk of catching blood-borne pathogens if this is not done.

Additional risks related to dry needling are minor and very common. They are as follows:

  • Temporary soreness 
  • Bleeding at insertion points 
  • Skin bruising 

Final Thoughts

Now that you are aware of what dry needling is, how it works, and its advantages and effects on the body,  you should know if it’s a treatment worth your time. If you’re still not sure whether dry needling is suitable for you, get in touch with Khalsa Physiotherapy. Khalsa physiotherapy in Surrey BC offers the most excellent physiotherapy treatments. Our skilled physiotherapists diagnose, analyze, and observe patients determine the root cause of pain.  

Please call +1 604-503-5306  if you have any questions. We will put you in touch with one of our experts.