Dry needling uses small, thin needles to stimulate underlying muscular and connective tissues for the management of many orthopedic conditions, both acute and chronic. By inserting a needle into the dysfunctional tissue, it often leads to a contraction of the muscle which can then desensitize the irritated region. This often leads to a decrease of pain, increases in flexibility and a restoration of normalized movement when combined with corrective exercises.
Muscle dysfunction can be the primary or secondary contributing factor to many neuromusculoskeletal conditions, which can include:
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Tendonitis or tendinopathy
- Muscle strains
- IT band syndrome
- Patellofemoral dysfunction
- Neck pain or headaches
- Rotator cuff impingement
- SI joint dysfunction
Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture
This treatment is not acupuncture. Modern dry needling is based on modern scientific study of the muscles and nervous system. This modality can only be done by trained clinicians.
Dry Needling With E-Stim
Dry needling on its own can be extremely effective as a treatment. The addition of e-stim acts as an adjunct to enhance the treatment effect for pain relief. E-stim helps to stimulate blood flow and provide analgesic effects to help numb the pain, often providing a more long-term effect.
How does the e-stim work?
Electrical stimulation helps treat pain by stimulating larger nerve fibers that supersede smaller nerve fibers that are causing pain. The larger nerves travel faster to override the smaller nerves similar to if you were to rub a sore spot; you would feel the rubbing instead of the pain.
Integrative Dry Needling
Integrative dry needling is a highly effective form of Physical therapy for the treatment of a multitude of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions. It is not appropriate for all conditions or pathologies and the use of the technique will be at the discretion of your physical therapist.
How does it work?
Integrative dry needling is not acupuncture (traditional Chinese medicine), it is based on neuro-anatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. A very fine filament needle is inserted through the skin and into the deeper tissues that are considered trigger points to your pain. Dry needling works by causing a micro lesion within the pathological tissue thus breaking up shortened tissues, inhibiting a reflex arc from the nervous system to the tissue, normalizing the inflammatory response, and centrally mediating the pain. This mechanical and neuromuscular effect provides an environment that enhances the body’s ability to heal which ultimately reduces pain.
What conditions can be treated?
Conditions include, but are not limited to neck, back and shoulder pain, arm pain (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, golfer’s elbow), headache to include migraines and tension-typee headaches, jaw pain, buttock pain and leg pain (sciatica, hamstrings strains, calf tightness/ spasms).
Are the needles sterile?
Yes, we only use sterile disposable needles.
Is the procedure painful?
The fine filament needle is very thin, solid, and flexible, which allows for the needle to be pushed through the skin versus cutting the skin. This helps reduce any discomfort that may occur with the procedure. We strive to make the treatment virtually painless however at times a local twitch response of the muscle may be felt. When the needle is inserted into the pathological tissue the local twitch response sensation is normal and is felt only momentarily. Many patients describe this twitch response as a little electric shock, cramp or an ache sensation. These sensations are perfectly normal and even a desirable response. Your PT will make every effort to make your experience comfortable and therapeutic.
How will I feel after the Dry Needling treatment?
This will vary but many patients experience immediate relief of their symptoms and an increase in range of motion. Soreness can also be a common response from the needling but does not occur with all people. Some individuals may experience an immediate achiness or a delayed soreness the next day. The soreness, if present, will usually last 1-2 days, the use of heat and light massage and movement will be beneficial. Mild bruising may occur at the needling sites and is more prevalent in certain parts of the body. Larger bruising may also occur but is rare. Application of ice on the bruise will help with the soreness and the skin discoloration will last several days but is not harmful.
It is uncommon but possible that the treatment may temporarily increase your symptoms. This is not unusual but if this continues past the 1-2 day window, inform your PT to allow adjustment of your program to enhance your comfort the next time. This does not mean that needling will not be beneficial to your condition.
Will I continue to do exercises or receive other treatments?
Yes, your personalized physical therapy program will still integrate traditional physical therapy methods including manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, endurance training, stabilization and posture training.
How many treatments will I need?
This will depend on the category you fit in, which is determined by the state of the injury and your overall health. Remember we are attempting to cause mechanical and biochemical changes without any pharmacological means. Therefore, we are looking for a cumulative response to break the pain cycle. Your PT will be able to give you more insight after your evaluation.
What should I do to prepare for the treatment?
• Do not eat 30 minutes before the treatment
• Be well hydrated but empty your bladder before treatment
• Wear loose-fitting clothing, shorts, or bathing suit for easy access to your painful areas
What should/can I do after treatment, what should I avoid?
Our recommendations vary depending on the amount of soreness you have and on the individual response to the treatment. Recommendations may include increasing your water intake, applying heat or ice over the area, gentle stretches and modifications of activities.
Is Dry Needling treatment covered by my insurance?
This is a Physical Therapy treatment and is NOT acupuncture, therefore, your coverage of Dry Needling should correspond with your Physical Therapy benefits. You can discuss this further with our administrative staff if you require more information.
Not all medical or physical therapy professionals are trained to perform the Integrative Dry Needling treatment technique. The physical therapists at Flicker Physical Therapy have advanced training and have been certified through the Integrative Dry Needling Institute.