Dry needling is a therapeutic technique that involves inserting a needle into the skin to stimulate certain trigger points on the body. It is typically used to reduce pain, loosen tension in the muscles, help speed up the recovery process, and eliminate any biochemical or electrical dysfunction in your motor endplates. It can be used to treat multiple layers of muscles which cannot be manipulated by hands or fingers.
While it is a similar technique to acupuncture, it is actually not at all related to the ancient practice.
A trigger point is any taut area of muscles within a larger muscle group. These tight bands are usually painful to the touch and hypersensitive to any pressure. Because these muscles are so irritated, they can cause pain, tenderness, and other symptoms to radiate out to other areas. By inserting the needle into a trigger point, the doctor can help your muscles relax, easing pain and tension throughout the body.
During the procedure, the doctor uses a thin, sterile needle. They will then insert the needle by hand into the trigger point. Depending on how tight the muscle is, they may use repetitive manipulation to ease the muscle into a local twitch response. By twitching, the muscle fibers will release and loosen up, leading to immediate relaxation and decrease in pain.
When the needle is first inserted into your skin, you may feel a small pinch. However, once the needle is in the skin, you no longer feel pain. When your muscles twitch, you might feel a small amount of pain, but this will quickly ease into relaxation.
Many people can benefit from dry needling. Typically, it is used as part of a bigger treatment plan to help relieve symptoms of neck and back pain, muscle spasms, sciatica, tendonitis, headaches, fibromyalgia, and chronic injury or pain. It is a great tool for sports specific functional evaluation as well as injury rehabilitation.
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