You may have heard your friends talk about going to physical therapy for something called “needling”.  While it doesn’t sound like a good thing, people talk about how it solved their shoulder pain, or maybe neck pain and headaches.  Maybe you haven’t heard about it, but if you have ongoing issues with an Achilles tendon, plantar fasciitis, low back or neck pain that haven’t resolved despite your many attempts at treating it, then keep reading…

Dry needling is a technique that physical therapists use for the treatment of soft tissue issues in the body as a result of injury or overuse.  The “dry” description is added for the purpose of distinguishing this technique from another form of treatment called trigger point injections which involve the use of a medication to target pain and sometimes inflammation in the tissue.

What happens with Dry Needling?

A small solid filament needle is inserted into a myofascial trigger point (see previous blog post  A local twitch response is elicited in the muscle.  The contraction of the muscle fibers within the trigger point then releases as a result of the twitch response.  The process takes approximately 30 seconds and the results include improvement in blood flow and oxygenation of the soft tissue, restoration of normal pH, and decrease in pain-producing chemicals.

Where is Dry Needling used?

Trigger point dry needling is a treatment for many types of overuse injuries. Overuse is common to issues at the muscular level when activities are repeated in cyclic fashion over long periods of time. These activities might include running, cycling, weightlifting, or tennis.  An overuse injury can also be created as a result of repeated, prolonged muscle use in dysfunctional ways such as sitting at computer with poor posture or sleeping without good pillow support of your neck.

How many treatment sessions will it take to resolve my issue?

The answer to this question involves many factors-- chronicity of the issue, involvement of surrounding tissues, and activity between visits.  Patients usually feel change within the first treatment, but resolution can take several sessions especially if the muscle is reaggravated between visits.

Is Dry Needling the only effective solution for treating a trigger point?

No, other treatment methods are effective at addressing soft tissue injury, but they may be less direct and take more time.

Do all physical therapists use Dry Needling as part of their treatment plan?

No, dry needling is a technique that requires additional training beyond the education required for the professional degree.  The physical therapists at Body in Balance Physical Therapy have been through a training process that requires over 100 hours of in person education with practical and theoretical testing to receive their certification.  They have a combined 15 years of experience using dry needling with their patients.

Ready to give it a try?  Give the Body In Balance Physical Therapists a call at their Brookfield or Hartland location today!

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