Dry needling is an adjunct treatment involved in treating pain related to skeletal muscles. To practice dry needling, one has to undergo a dry needling course provided by a reputable institution and fulfill the required criteria to obtain a certificate of competence. Currently, dry needling courses are only provided to a licensed healthcare provider who has done a full-time graduate degree in their field of study (i.e. Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, etc.).
What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling involves the use of a sterile, fine filament needle. The needle is inserted into areas of the muscles known as the trigger point. These trigger points are often hyperirritable spots that might be a source of pain. Inserting a needle to the trigger point areas often induce a local twitch response from the muscle, causing a cramping-like sensation. This process lasts for a short 10-15 seconds and is repeated along other trigger point areas that you might have.
Conditions That Can Be Treated By Dry Needling:
- Neck / Back / Shoulder / Knee Pain
- Tennis / Golfers Elbow
- Hip and Gluteal Pain
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Chronic Pain
- Achilles Tendonitis / Tendonosis
- Muscular Strains / Ligament Sprains
How Can Dry Needling Help?
Trigger points are often formed due to injuries that cause the muscle fibers to get damaged. These damaged muscle fibers often go into a contracted and protective state, limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood from reaching the injury site. This causes a lack of oxygen to the injured area, causing chemical imbalances which leads to pain, weakness, and reduced flexibility of the muscles. Through dry needling, it elicits a local twitch response from the trigger point area, normalizing the chemical environment around it. This allows the muscle regeneration process to occur, reducing tension on the taut band of the muscles, allowing for a better flow of oxygen-rich blood to the area. This will help to relieve any pain or tightness you might feel, improve your movement and range of motion.
How Does Dry Needling Differ From Acupuncture?
While both techniques might look similar, the fundamental belief differs greatly. Dry needling focus on treating myofascial pain by eliciting a local twitch response from trigger point areas, while acupuncture focus on treating an illness that is usually a result of blocked or interrupted Chi energy. This is done by using the acupuncture needles to remove the blockages of Chi energy, allowing your body to return to a state of chi energy flow balance. To elicit a local twitch, dry needling is usually performed to a greater depth into the trigger point of the muscle fibers, and manipulating the needle for a short 10-15 seconds. With acupuncture, the needle is commonly inserted into a more superficial depth at the acupoint. The needle can be left there for 15-20 mins.