The Apple Journal

Dry Needling: a patient's guide

What is Dry needling?

Dry needling is a manual therapy technique used for the treatment of pain and movement restrictions. Dry needling differs from acupuncture firstly in that dry needling is a modern, western medicine that treats muscular pain, and acupuncture has been used for thousands of years for various conditions. A Healthline article details more of the differences “One is designed to relieve pain, discomfort, or issues by opening up a person’s energy flow or chi (acupuncture). The other is designed to stimulate trigger points, or muscles that are irritable (dry needling).”

how does dry needling help?

dry needlingA “dry” filiform needle – a needle with no medication or injection – is inserted through the skin into trigger points. Trigger points are areas of knotted or hardened muscle causing pain the localized area and/or in other areas of the body. The needles are inserted in or around the trigger points in an effort to inactivate, or release those muscles to relieve pain. Healthline suggests “if you choose dry needling, find someone with postgraduate healthcare education, such as a physical therapist.”

Dry needling is typically used as part of a broader plan of care. ChoosePT says “Preliminary research supports that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, and normalizes dysfunctions of the motor end plates, the sites at which nerve impulses are transmitted to muscles. This can help speed up the patient’s return to active rehabilitation.”

what to expect

As previously said, dry needling is almost always used as part of an overall plan of care. Your therapist will brief you on exactly what to expect if your plan of care includes this treatment technique. Patients experience different sensations during treatment, but muscle soreness, aching, or a muscle twitch is considered a good sign. Depending on what condition is being treated, needles may stay in for shorter (seconds) or longer (minutes) periods of time. 

what pain does dry needling treat?

The Cleveland Clinic lists various pains treated by dry needling, those include:

  • Joint problems
  • Disk problems
  • Tendinitis
  • Migraine and tension-type headaches
  • Jaw and mouth problems (such as temporomandibular joint disorders or TMD)
  • Whiplash
  • Repetitive motion disorders (like carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Spinal problems
  • Pelvic pain
  • Night cramps
  • Phantom pain
  • Post-herpetic neuralgia (pain left behind by shingles)

patient awareness

Patients should always check with their primary care provider before continuing with treatments such as dry needling. However, those who should heed particular awareness are: pregnant women, people who do not fully understand the treatment, people who are very afraid of needles. Others also include those who are on blood thinners or recently recovering from surgery. 

dry needling at apple

Apple offers dry needling as part of an overall plan of care, or as a cash service, at each of our six locations. Dry needling at Apple is performed by therapists with the specialized knowledge.

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