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Dry Needling: What Is It, What Does It Do For You, and How it Helps

What Is Dry Needling?

Trigger Point Dry Needling (sometimes abbreviated to TDN) is a treatment when a small monofilament needle is inserted through the skin and into a trigger point of the muscles with the goal of reducing pain and improving movement.  This can be an effective treatment for many musculoskeletal conditions and should only be performed by a trained medical professional. A trigger point is a tight spot in the muscle fibers that can disrupt the normal function of a muscle, and can restrict movement or cause pain and tenderness.  Dry needling these trigger points causing dysfunctional muscles can reduce the tension and improve your movement, increase the blood flow, and decrease pain.

What Does Dry Needling Do For You?

Dry needling is an effective tool that is used by a trained physical therapist to help to decrease muscle pain and soreness along with assisting in tissue healing.  Basically it can be a big hitter in getting rid of pain and helping you to return to a normal life and your favorite activities.  Dry needling is a tool that in conjunction with other physical therapy techniques can not only treat the pain, but can treat the root cause of the pain.  While it is a very powerful tool, usually you also need other hands on treatments in conjunction with dry needling for your fastest results. 

How Long Does Dry Needling Last?

The effects from dry needling will vary by the person and level of dysfunction/pain being addressed but typically will have improvement in pain for 2-3 days from one session.  You should see steady improvement with additional treatments after that.  The level of improvement depends on a variety of factors including: the length of time the pain has been present, what it’s limiting you from doing, what else you are doing to help the pain, what you are trying to get back to (goals), and on the consistency of completing your corrective exercises to maintain the proper body mechanics and movements. Although you usually start feeling better after the first session, more than one session of dry needling is typically needed.

How Long Does It Take For Dry Needling To Work

Effects can be immediate with a change in symptoms but typically can take 2-3 sessions to feel the full effect. Dry needling is a tool to help progress and speed up the therapy process but dry needling by itself usually will not provide a completely lasting correction.  But when combined with other hands on treatments and an exercise or two it is a favorite of our patients for its effects and how fast patients can tell a difference in their issues.

What Is the Benefit Of Dry Needling?

Dry needling can be used to help address trigger points, pain, muscle tightness, strength, and create normal pain free movement. When the muscles are frequently tight, painful, and sore your brain can try to make you move in ways to prevent yourself from causing yourself pain and harm.  When you stay in these dysfunctional movement patterns they can cause weakness, stiffness, and new areas of pain and injury.  Breaking this pain -> poor movement -> pain cycle can help you to return to normal movements and get you back to a regular pain free life. 

What’s The Difference In Dry Needling And Acupuncture

Dry needling is not acupuncture.  While they both use small needles they are just tools for their respective medical providers.  Just like  a plumber and a mechanic both use the same tool (a wrench) but in very different ways and for different reasons.  Dry needling is based on Western medicine and involves orthopedic musculoskeletal tests to determine if you should or should not receive dry needling to improve painful movement patterns, posture, function, muscle mobility and decrease the pain. Acupuncture is rooted in traditional Eastern medicine to address flow of energy or the Qi.

Will Dry Needling Hurt?

Although dry needling can be uncomfortable, it’s usually not that bad. Typically you do not feel the needling penetrating the skin but may feel a warmth, muscle tightening, or twitch response in the muscle. At times it will recreate a “familiar” type of pain, which is a good thing, in that then we know we are in the right spot and it is addressing the muscle that is contributing to your symptoms.  If you are someone that thinks dry needling might leave some soreness you could let us know and we can do some additional hands on treatments to minimize the risk of soreness.

Can Dry Needling Make Things Worse?

Dry needling can make you a little sore and at times that can make you feel worse, but this is only temporary.  When it does feel a little worse it is usually for only 24 hours and then you feel better.  When dry needling a trigger point a “familiar” or referral pain can be created which might feel like it is changing or making the pain worse but is also only temporary.   If you have been dry needled a couple of times and your issues continue to get worse you should speak with your medical provider, or more likely a better solution would be to speak to another medical provider that utilizes dry needling.

How Often Should Dry Needling Be Done

Sometimes just once but usually it takes a couple of times.  For an uncomplicated issue typically 1-2x weeks for 3-4 visits.  If your issue is complicated or multiple body areas and muscles are involved it may need to be done longer.  But if it would take several sessions of dry needling you should be feeling progressively better during the process.   If you are not getting better after 1-2 sessions of dry needling then we should figure out other ways of helping you to improve.  Being selective of who needs dry needling and who doesn’t can help to make sure you make progress with these treatments

Dry Needling Near Me

Many people will search for dry needling near me.  When searching for a dry needling provider their distance from you is an important factor.  However, realize that it is only one thing you should consider.  With dry needling’s rise in popularity, more and more medical professionals are offering this treatment.  You should also consider: Is this provider an expert in helping people like me?  Are they familiar with pain similar to mine and do they have a history of helping people with similar issues? Will they get to the root cause of the problem (culprit) or only treat the area of pain (the victim)?  Will they do other treatments to help me as well or is dry needling the main thing they will be doing?  Will they give me things to do on my own to help myself? 

Distance is only one thing to consider.  Taking all of these factors into consideration should help you to find the right provider for you and to get the fastest relief. 

If you have read enough and want to see if we could help you with your pain and trigger points you can contact us here. 

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