What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a pain relief and movement impairment treatment performed by specially certified physical therapists, and is often referred to as trigger point dry needling (TDN) or intramuscular manual therapy. The treatment consists of pushing a very thin needle (the same kind as used with acupuncture) through the skin to stimulate myofascial trigger points. These are the knots you may feel in areas where your muscles feel tight or "balled up." The needle can relax the tight muscle bands associated with trigger points. As a result, dry needling may be helpful in decreasing pain and increasing motion for patients with many injuries.
"My only regret is that I didn't discover dry needling sooner."
Does it Hurt?
The short answer is no, it doesn't. There is a slight poke when the needle is initially inserted (no worse than a mosquito bite), and you may experience some mild muscle "twitches" during the treatment as well as some slight bruising in the day or two following, but these are mildly uncomfortable at worst. It's also best to use the muscles after treatment to help with the soreness you may experience over the next two days, including lots of stretching, but your therapist will of course give you details about how to best handle your specific case.
Does it work?
In a study published in the April 2014 issue of JOSPT, a group of researchers measured the benefits of dry needling for patients. The researchers studied 17 patients. All patients’ neck pain began within 7 days of the start of the study. Half of the patients received trigger point dry needling treatment, and the other half received no treatment. The patients who received the dry needling had better results. Immediately after the treatment, their pain decreased by 33%. One week after the treatment, their pain was 66% less. Also, those patients treated with dry needling were better able to bend their heads forward and backward and to turn their heads toward the painful side of their necks. Many professional athletes have also been known to use dry needling as a way to recover from intense workouts and injuries, specifically NFL players, including Tom Brady and Jason Witten, as well as others like James Harrison and Devonta Freeman.
What's the difference between Dry Needling and Acupuncture?
Trigger Point Dry Needling is based on Western medical research and principles, whereas acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. The biggest commonality between the two is the type of needle used.
Dry Needling is used to treat the following issues (to name a few):