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Addressing pain at its source

Dry Needling

Dry needling is a revolutionary pain-relieving procedure which helps to break the pain cycle that is commonly associated with myofascial pain. Treatment involves direct manipulate of the trigger points which are multiple contraction knots related to maintenance of the pain cycle. Trigger points are known to be involved in acute and chronic, localized and widespread pain including common conditions such as migraines, back pain, neck pain, TMJ, sciatica, fibromyalgia, and other types of muscular pain. Dry needling reduces muscle tension, promotes healing, and increases range of motion.

How does dry needling work?

Studies by Dr. Jay Shah and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health have shown that inserting a needle into trigger points causes favorable biochemical changes which can help reduce pain. Dry needling is an invasive procedure in which a solid filament needle is inserted into the skin and muscle, aimed directly at a myofascial trigger point. The procedure elicits local muscle twitch response, which is an involuntary spinal cord reflex. These twitches cause the muscle to contract, increasing blood flow to the area to promote relaxation of the trigger point. Creating these local twitch responses with dry needling is the first step in breaking the pain cycle.

Is the procedure painful?

Most patients do not feel the needle insertion. The local twitch response elicits less than a second of discomfort. Patients describe it as feeling like a deep ache or cramping sensation. Some areas of the body are more sensitive than others. Therapeutic benefits occur when the local twitch is created, which is a good and desirable response.

Is dry needling similar to acupuncture?

Dry needling and acupuncture share the same tool (the needle) but are quite different. Acupuncture is based on Eastern medicine while dry needling is strictly based on Western medicine principles and research.

Are the needles sterile?

Yes, we only use sterile, disposable needles.

What side effects can I expect after the treatment?

Most patients describe what feels like muscle soreness over the treated area after the procedure, which can last between a few hours and two days.

What should I do after having the procedure done?

Depending on your condition, your physical therapist will give you specific instructions. Recommendations may include applying heat or ice to the affected area, gentle stretches and modifications of activities.

How long does it take for the procedure to work?

As with any treatment, everyone responds differently. Typically it takes several visits for the pain cycle to be broken. The longer you’ve had a problem, the longer it may take to resolve. You should start feeling better after the first 2-3 sessions.

Why is my doctor not familiar with dry needling?

In the US, dry needling is a relatively new method of treating myofascial pain. Most doctors are familiar with trigger point injections. This technique uses larger needles and injects an anesthetic such as Lidocaine. Dry needling has the advantage of using thinner, less invasive needles thereby allowing more areas to be treated in a session. Feel free to share this information with your doctor and encourage him or her to contact us to learn more.

Once I am feeling better, how often do I need to come back to maintain my progress?

Your therapist will give you specific exercises and recommendations to maintain your results. Like any injury, there is a chance your pain could return. Call your physical therapist if you experience a flare-up.

Client Testimonial

I went to Health In Balance for help with tightness and pain in my legs. The Physical Therapy provided quickly reduced a lot of the issues. I decided to try dry needling and the results were amazing! I am so glad I tried it, I have not been this pain free in almost a decade.

WK, Patient