Dry needling – which may be referred to as “intramuscular manual therapy”/IMT or “trigger point dry needling”/TDN is a procedure that utilizes a small needle in order to penetrate a trigger point within a muscle. This causes that muscle to go into a contraction and then enter a state of relaxation. As a result, the trigger point activated is then relaxed. The process improves the flexibility of the muscle, optimizes its performance, and decreases pain, and aids in the relief of numerous other symptoms. In this guide, we will cover what issues dry needling successfully treats.
What is a Trigger Point?
Before delving into the various issues that dry needling treats, we feel it is important to outline the basics of a trigger point.
A trigger point is the presence of tenderness within a band of muscle that is tight, commonly identified as “knots”.
As a result of the tightness and tenderness, pain may be experienced. This pain may then refer out at various other locations within the body.
What is Done During Dry Needling?
When a clinician performs dry needling, they simply push very small, solid, and relatively thin needles directly through the skin into a trigger point.
These needles do not contain medication. They simply stimulate the tissue that they come into contact with.
These needles may be placed just below the skin or deeper.
The amount of time the needles are left in the area depends upon the severity of the issue being treated.
The needles may be placed for a period of seconds or up to a period of 15 minutes.
The following outlines the most common issues that benefit from dry needling:
- Disc Strain – This occurs when the discs in the back are subjected to any type of force or any type of load that exceeds that which the soft tissues in the area may successfully cope. In most instances, irritation, inflammation, and pain occur.
- Jaw Problems – One of the most common of all jaw problems is temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD. This causes compromises in the movements within the jaw and the muscles that surround the area. It can cause pain, problems in chewing, and the locking of the joint of the jaw.
- Joint Problems – This is physical levels of discomfort where at least two bones meet to create a joint. These problems may be caused by overuse, lack of use, strains, sprains, and underlying medical conditions, such as arthritis.
- Migraine Headaches – These types of headaches are marked by varying degrees of intensity and often include the symptoms of nausea and having sensitivity to light and/or sound. For many, these headaches are disabling.
- Night Cramps – These are leg cramps that occur at night. These cramps may be identified as “nocturnal leg cramps”. These result in painful muscle spasms or contractions within the legs. Some cases may be caused by dehydration, exercise, and even lack of muscle use. In other instances, it could be a result of an underlying medical condition such as low potassium levels. Most of the time, doctors are unable to identify the culprit.
- Pelvic Pain – This may occur with both women and men. Infections, pelvic bone pain, abnormalities in the organs, menstruation, and trauma may cause this type of pain.
- Phantom Pain – This type of pain occurs with a body part that is no longer part of the body. It is most commonly experienced after amputation. Once believed it was a psychological issue, it has now been found that the sensations are real and that they stem from the brain and the spinal cord.
- Post-Herpetic Neuralgia – This is a type of prolonged pain that occurs in the skin of individuals that have experienced a bout of shingles. It stems from the damage to the nerve fibers during the outbreak. Messages cannot be properly sent to the brain and become confused. As a result, severe pain may be experienced.
- Repetitive Motion Disorders – This includes a large variety of muscular-based conditions that occur because of repeated motions engaged in. These disorders include muscle pain, nerve pain, and impact the tendons and the ligaments. Examples of these conditions include carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, and tendonitis.
- Spinal Problems – These include injuries and diseases that negatively impact the spine. Examples include spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, herniated disk, sciatica, scoliosis, and cervical spondylosis.
- Whiplash – This is a type of neck injury that occurs because the neck has experienced a fast back and forth movement that was extremely forceful. This is most commonly experienced in vehicle accidents, but may occur in other circumstances, too.
Is There Anyone That Should Not Have Dry Needling Performed?
While dry needling is considered to be safe and effective, those that are pregnant, afraid of needles, and/or do not understand the treatment should not have the procedure performed. In all cases, a doctor should be consulted prior to setting up an appointment for dry needling. If you have recently had surgery or you are on any type of medication that thins the blood, a doctor’s approval is necessary. Adverse effects of the procedure include soreness, bleeding, fainting, fatigue, and organ puncture (though very rare).
Contact Us Today
We here at Back to Motion Physical Therapy offer dry needling to our patients. If you have a condition that is not listed in this brief guide, contact us. It could be one of the many issues that benefit from dry needling therapy. You will experience numerous benefits from this procedure. These include:
- Decreased Soreness
- Increased Levels of Flexibility
- Relaxation of the Muscles
- Reduced Pain
The needles that we utilize are so small that they rarely cause any pain when placed in the skin. Once the needle makes contact with the muscle, a twitch will occur. After, you may have a bit of referred pain and muscle soreness. You may also experience general levels of fatigue. The number of treatments that will be appropriate for you will depend on the issue you are being treated for. If you would like to learn more or want to set up an appointment, contact us now.