Dry Needling is a technique used to treat pain and to improve healing. The technique uses a “dry” needle, one without medication or injection, inserted through the skin and muscles.
Dry needling uses a very fine needle (filiform needle) to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying muscular and connective tissues. The needle is used to cause a small, precise injury or “lesion” in the tissue when it enters the body. The tiny needle induces injury signals the brain uses to initiate a sequence of events to replace or repair the damaged tissue with new, healthy tissue. As a result of these physiologic processes, dry needling can purposely address muscle, tendon and myofascial pain and dysfunction. We are looking to get improvements even from the first visit such as increased range of motion, ease of movement and decreased pain signs/symptoms.
Dry needling is not acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists. Dry needling is a part of modern Western medicine principles and supported by research.
When an injury occurs from repetitive use or acute trauma, inflammation will be produced from the damaged tissues. The damaged tissues will also go into a protective tension state or contracture to guard against further damage from utilizing the injured tissue. This contracture and inflammation inhibit microcirculation which limits both the oxygen-rich blood reaching the injury and the waste products leaving the injury. The injury site becomes hypoxic (decreased in oxygen) which stimulates the body to produce fibroblasts, a cell that produces fibrosis or scar tissue. This fibrosis and scarring builds up around the muscles and tissues limiting the tissues ability to fully function (lengthen/shorten) all of which inevitably lead to biomechanical disturbances.
You may or may not feel the insertion of the needle. The specific needle manipulation is intended to produce a mild local response that can elicit a very brief (less than a second) painful response some patients describe as deep ache or cramping sensation. Many patients report being sore after the treatment in both the area treated and the area of referred symptoms up to 24 to 48 hours. Soreness may be alleviated by applying ice or heat to the area and performing specific stretches for the treated tissue.