Informative and super helpful, Kelly of Priority PT is back and sharing about a service offering of hers called dry needling. You may be asking yourself, what is dry needling? How does it differ from acupuncture? Why would someone choose to get it done? How can it help? How often should you get it done? Keep on scrolling to find out the answers to all of these and more!
What is Dry Needling?
Kelly: Dry needling is called a few different things – one is intramuscular manual therapy and another is Trigger Point Dry Needling. Overall, the goal is pretty much the same – improve muscle and tissue mobility, reduce tension on a nerve, improve blood flow, change the body’s perception of touch, reduce pain – and GET you moving!! Dry needling requires placing a small monofilament acupuncture needle into a trigger point or restriction in the tissue. Typically, I see immediate results with the tension and pain of a particular spot and even around the needled spot. We can needle scars, tendons, trigger points, muscles, and joints. It all depends on your diagnosis and what we’re trying to do! The best analogy I like to use for how dry needling works is that the muscle is freaking out and has been tight or not moving well for a while (can be a day or even years). When we put the needle in the trigger point, a twitch response occurs which feels like a deep ache or a release and it’s like hitting a reset button. Some people find it painful, while others think it feels good and relieving – either way it’s a pretty immediate improvement and change. If you tend to get the same trigger points in a spot – consider Dry needling and a Physical Therapist. Often movement prescription accompanied with the release of dry needling can resolve the issues much faster than weeks of massage or soft tissue release from what I have found in the clinic. It is different from acupuncture because we don’t follow chi or meridians within the body. Though there are several trigger points that are commonly known points and sites for acupuncture but also are known to be trigger points or points of common irritation. Physical Therapists are certified dry needling after hours of practice and coursework. We are not acupuncturists . Acupuncturists have a complete different state licensure and are required to do different coursework than we are as Doctors in Physical Therapy. Other providers who typically offer it are chiropractors. Even among therapists and chiropractors, I often find that though the name is the same, our techniques are different so I would encourage everyone to find a provider they trusts and who understands them.
How Can Dry Needling Help in Postpartum?
Kelly: I have seen moms postpartum for all sorts of aches and pains. I have needled for back pain, sciatica, neck pain, headaches, “Mommy Thumb” or De Quervaine’s syndrome, postural issues, pelvic pain, endometriosis pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, foot pain and all the little annoyances /tendonitis that come with repetitive activities we do with our kiddos. I think of it as an extension of my hands except that is is deeper and more specific. I have seen ladies years after an injury or issue relating to childbirth that has been resolved via dry needling when they’d seen chiropractors, other PTs and massage therapists. There are also some techniques we can use with the needles for scar remodeling. I have seen that be amazing as well
What areas do patients typically get dry needling?
Kelly: As mentioned above, dry needling is safe for almost any area with the knowledge base we have of our anatomy. I would say the most common are the low back, hips, and upper back/necks from holding the baby and nursing or falling asleep on the couch in awful positions. I have seen individuals with disc problems be able to get on and off the table with more ease and less pain. For my athletes or runners – I typically would do where their pain points are but then look elsewhere to determine the other contributing factors that led to the issues. Thats the thing – needling cannot FIX all your issues. I can help reduce the pain and help you move better but ultimately it is a strength or control issue that needs to be addressed if it’s a chronic problem for you.
How often should you get dry needling?
Kelly: I typically dry needle the same spot once a week or every 3-5 days. I don’t like to continue to needle a spot and just “hope” it will feel better. I want there to be a pattern and a method to me treatments. If there is a spot that continues to feel like it “needs to be needled” usually there’s a movement pattern that needs to be addressed along with that pain (hello physical therapy!!) -Otherwise it’s just a Band-Aid
What is the healing process like with dry needling?
Kelly: Dry needling creates a very low level of inflammation which allows your body to respond with endorphins, histamines, and other chemicals that help the pain cycle and improve healing. It’s like sending a marker in the body to say “hey!! I’m over here!! Come help me!!” Because it’s just another way to improve mobility and tissue length, we want movement right away and we want you to get more blood flow. We encouraged water consumption and exercises to help “flush” the system. The worse thing you can do is go back to your poor posture or be sedentary after a treatment because the body is wanting to heal and movement allows it to do so.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about dry needling?
Kelly: I have used dry needling for over 8 years. I have seen individuals be able to run in Marathons at faster paces, lunge with out pain, bend over end tie shoes without pain, and overall do what they want to do whether it is home-life or gym-life. There are also other techniques that work really well with a machine like a TENS unit. We would put the needles into the painful spot and connect them to that machine. When we do that, it allows DC current to travel Into the muscles and helps to calm down a very painful spot or retrain like neuromuscular electrical stimulation except that it is very isolated and precise. It just feels like a strong heartbeat to the muscles and better than those old units we would use. It is one of those things you just have to experience and see for yourself!!
Kelly, this was extremely helpful! Thank you for sharing all about dry needling and the benefits.
If you’re someone looking to learn more and/or try this out, be sure to check out Priority PT.