Dry Needling: What it is, How it Works

Getting to the Point with Dry Needling

Trigger Point Dry Needling (let’s face it the name sounds painful) is a procedure whereby very thin acupuncture needles are inserted under the skin into muscles that are in spasm.  The spasm causes the muscle to be in constant tension which reduces blood flow, decreases oxygen, and can produce fibrotic unhealthy tissue over time (scarring).

When I insert a dry needle into a knotted up muscle (the trigger point) it creates a local twitch reflex. Research shows that this not only relaxes the muscle, it breaks up the pain cycle by improving blood flow and oxygen to the muscle.  This whole process helps to reduce and normalize inflammation in the area to promote healing.“After two back surgeries in my 20s and a new hip at 58, I figured I was lucky just to be walking,” said my patient, John Decker.  “Dry needling has transformed the way I move. I’m more flexible. My walking stride has more length and I can stand longer.”

(woohoo! I love hearing this)

Does it Hurt?

For some it does. But Ashley Jane Kneeland described it in Everyday Health as “The Most Painful Thing I’ve Ever Loved.” Some say the twitching muscle caused by the needle is painful. Some say inserting the needle into the skin causes pain. Others feel no real pain at all.  The good news is that for many it is a wonderful healing tool that can be taken in very small steps to see if it works for you.

Is Dry Needling For You?

The easiest way to find out if dry needling is a good option for you is to talk to a physical therapist near you who is trained in this technique.  I don’t propose getting dry needling as a treatment all on its own.  I believe that it should be used in conjunction with other physical therapy techniques, like hands-on work and specialized, corrective exercises.  If you want to know more about dry needling or have specific questions please reach out!  I would be happy to answer them for you.

Have you every received dry needling before?  What was your experience?  Please share in the comments below.