Is Dry Needling Worth It? Answering ALL Your Questions About Dry Needling
Physios regularly use dry needling therapy to treat myofascial trigger point pain and movement limitations. The technique involves a practitioner inserting thin needles into or near trigger points.
When needles are inserted, muscles contract or twitch. Pain is reduced and flexibility is improved by this response. It’s simple and this therapy is proven to work effectively on stiff and sore muscles (be sure to read through to the bottom of this blog to claim your dry needling special offer).
So... what exactly is dry needling?
Dry needling therapists gently inserts fine, pointed needles through the skin to target myofascial trigger points.
The term “myofascial” comes from “myo,” meaning “muscle,” and “fascia,” the delicate, white connective tissue that surrounds your muscles.
Muscle trigger points are tense, sensitive spots. These areas are sensitive and painful when pressed.
Sometimes a trigger point is near your pain. They often cause referred pain, which is discomfort in another part of your body.
Dry needling therapy reduces stiffness, improves blood circulation, and relieves local and referred pain.
The “dry” technique which we use at Rosanna Physio uses solid, non-medicated needles to inject no drugs into your body. In contrast, trigger point injections are medicated and administered by a doctor.
Trigger point dry needling therapy and intramuscular stimulation are other names for dry needling.
But how does it actually work?
Excessive muscle use causes an energy crisis, which reduces blood flow to muscle fibres. Due to poor blood circulation, they lack oxygen and nutrients needed to relax and normalise the muscle.
This makes the muscle tissue around your trigger point more acidic, increasing nerve sensitivity. This heightened sensitivity causes pain and discomfort.
Adding a needle to a trigger point restores blood flow, cleansing and relieving tension. Needles can also activate nerve fibres that release endorphins, which your body produces to relieve pain.
Your physiotherapist will insert a needle into a muscle trigger point after identifying it. They may gently manipulate the needle to cause a rapid, involuntary muscle contraction called a local twitch response. Positive muscle engagement with treatment is often indicated by this response.
Many people experience immediate pain relief and mobility improvements after dry needling. Some may need multiple treatments to see results.
Ah okay, that makes sense… will dry needling hurt?
No, dry needling therapy will not hurt if you working with experienced therapists.
You may feel some discomfort during dry needling treatments when the muscle trigger point is touched with the needle and releases tension.
Some patients may not feel the needle entering due to its small size at all, while others may feel a prickling sensation – but either way, dry needling will not cause you noticeable pain.
After reaching the muscle trigger point, the needle can cause pain and twitching.
Post-treatment, the insertion site for some people may feel tight or sore, but moving and stretching will help recovery.
What can dry needling do for my conditions?
Dry needling therapy reduces muscle pain and improves range of motion. It can treat many conditions, including:
- Joint problems
- Complications related to the disc
- Tension headaches and migraines
- Issues with the mouth and jaw, including TMJ disorders
- Whiplash injuries
- Disorders caused by repetitive motions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Spinal conditions
- Pelvic discomfort
Is dry needling suitable for everyone?
There are some people should avoid dry needling therapy. Medical professionals advise against this treatment for children under 12 due to possible discomfort and dislike of needles. Consent from you and your child is required, and less intrusive options are best.
It’s always best for people to do their research on any treatment modality, however we recommend the small list of following groups should consult a doctor before dry needling therapy:
- Pregnant individuals
- Those who may not fully understand the treatment
- Individuals with severe needle phobia (trypanophobia)
- People with weakened immune systems
- Those who have recently had surgery
- Individuals taking anticoagulants
Can you tell me more about the actual procedure?
Dry Needling Preparation: Before Treatment
Dry needling therapists will review your medical history and perform an assessment before starting dry needling. This determines if dry needling is right for you. In the likely event that you qualify, they will answer all your questions and explain the process.
Your appointment requires comfortable, loose clothing. Dress for easy access to the treatment area.
Treatment with Dry Needling: What Happens?
First, your physio will clean the injured area requiring treatment and prepare the needle.
Sterile, single-use needles should be discarded after one use.
They will then palpate the area for the muscle trigger point with one hand or fingers.
With their other hand, they will place the plastic guide tube-encased needle over the target.
One-handed needle positioning is easier with the guide tube. After inserting the needle into the skin, your provider will remove the guide tube.
The dry-needling technique therapists use may vary, but common methods include:
- The superficial technique involves inserting a needle 5mm – 10mm into the subcutaneous tissue just above the trigger point.
- The Deep Technique involves inserting a needle through subcutaneous tissue and deep into the muscle to directly reach the trigger point.
The needle is left in place from anywhere from two seconds to 20 minutes, depending on your provider’s technique and your condition. They may also use gently pistoning in-and-out.
To test your response, your provider may use one or two needles in your first session. Depending on your reaction and condition, they may gradually increase needle use. They may use 10 – 15 needles along the spine for back treatment.
The procedure often causes muscle soreness or twitching. These sensations are normal and indicate the correct muscle reaction to treatment.
How long until after my first session will I feel reduced pain? How many sessions will I need?
After dry needling therapy, your therapist will carefully remove the needle and check your skin for reactions. The used needle will be disposed of safely in a medical sharps container.
Your physio will then gently assist you in standing. If you feel dizzy, they will make you sit and relax before leaving the clinic.
After therapy, your muscles may hurt more, but you must keep them moving – as they continue to release tension from the dry needling, you will restore more mobility and experience less pain as your recovery progresses. Commonly, this discomfort lasts two to three days and continues to decrease past your baseline pain / discomfort point before the dry needling. Additionally, minor bruises can surround the treated area.
Depending on your condition / injury, you may require some follow-up dry needling therapy sessions to continue to release the muscle tension long-term so your correct posture and mobility can be re-established.
What is the upside to dry needling?
A comprehensive treatment plan with dry needling therapy has many benefits. If done by an experienced professional like the team at Rosanna Physio, this method is safe, cost-effective and most importantly, it works.
Dry needling therapy reduces muscle stiffness and soreness by releasing trigger points, a well-evidenced claim backed by a growing body of clinical research.
Dry needling therapy can also improve flexibility and range of motion by targeting trigger points.
Another important benefit of dry needling therapy is that it can accurately target pain points on your body and provide almost immediate pain relief and improvement in mobility as the muscle’s trigger point is released.
Is there any downside to dry needling?
Overall, there is no meanginful downside to trying dry needling therapy, the only side effects are short term and minor. Soreness during and after dry needling therapy is the most common side effect. Other minor side effects include:
- Stiffness of muscles
- Bruising around needle insertion site
- Fainting episodes
So, the big question, is Dry Needling worth It?
Dry needling therapy for muscle pain is steadily growing these days due to the positive results attained. As discussed, extremely thin dry needles are inserted into muscle tissue through the skin. The term “dry” means no injections. Relaxed muscles, increase blood flow, and reduce pain regularly come as a result of this treatment.
Dry needling therapy often provides immediate relief, but some patients may need multiple treatments. Dry needling treats stiff and sore muscles that impede mobility.
Needle stimulation of muscle trigger points restores blood flow and relieves tension. The body’s natural painkillers, endorphins, can be released (which means you are much more likely to no longer require over the counter painkillers).
Dry needling therapy can cause stiffness, pain, and minor bruises in the short-term – but the long-term benefits far outweigh these minor issues.
The answer is a resounding yes, dry needling is definitely worth it due to its large body of positive evidence-based results in reducing muscle pain, restoring mobility and high levels of safety.