Are you dealing with chronic pain?
Are you looking for a minimally invasive alternative to traditional pain medications?
If so, dry needling might be for you.
Research points to dry needling as an effective solution for muscle pain, tension, and dysfunction.
Additionally, dry needling can help speed up the rehabilitation process after injury or trauma.
If you’re interested in learning more about how a dry needling therapist can help with a variety of conditions, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at dry needling, as well as some of the most common conditions that it can help with.
Keep reading to learn more.
How Does Dry Needling Work?
Dry needling is a therapy technique used by Washington DC physical therapists to help treat muscle pain associated with a wide variety of conditions.
The dry needling process includes inserting a type of thin needle known as a filiform needle into areas where your muscles are too constricted.
These areas are referred to as “trigger points”.
By inserting the needles it releases acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that tells your muscles to contract, from your trigger points.
This subsequently improves pain, range of motion limitations, and function.
Filiform needles don’t contain any medicine and therefore don’t inject any substance into your body.
This is why it’s called dry needling, to distinguish it from “wet needling”, which is how hypodermic needles – the ones they use to inject medicine or draw blood – work.
If you’ve ever had acupuncture done before, the needles used are the same, though the reason for doing the treatment and the technique is different.
With trigger point dry needling your physical therapist inserts the filiform needle directly onto the muscles where you are feeling the greatest pain or discomfort.
Your physical therapist then moves the needle from deeper to shallower tissues, without removing it, in a technique called pistoning.
This often generates an involuntary twitch of the muscle as the acetylcholine messenger releases, which is what allows the treatment to work as the muscle can then relax to its normal tone.
Benefits of Dry Needling
Below, we’ve highlighted some of the most common conditions that can benefit from dry needling.
1. Nonsurgical Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by excess pressure on the median nerve located in your hand.
This pressure frequently results in numbness, weakness, and pain throughout your hand and wrist.
However, dry needling can be an effective nonsurgical carpal tunnel syndrome treatment.
If you are struggling with carpal tunnel syndrome, you may also have compressed nerves within your arm, shoulder, and neck.
By relieving the pressure off these trigger points, dry needling can help improve pain and discomfort associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
It’s also a good idea to consider an ergonomics consultant for your workspace, if your carpal tunnel syndrome is related to a workplace injury.
2. Natural Pain Relief Treatment
When your muscles are injured or overused, they can become too contracted and prevent normal blood flow to surrounding areas, making it difficult for healing to occur.
Subsequently, the nerve becomes sensitive and painful.
Your physical therapist can use dry needling to help correct your blood flow as well as flush out the area near the trigger point.
Some people experience pain relief after their first dry needling session; however, others will need multiple treatments to experience full benefits.
3. Tennis Elbow
You don’t have to be a tennis player to get tennis elbow, just like you don’t need to be a runner to get runner’s knee.
In fact, you can get tennis elbow through working at a desk, playing a musical instrument, or any number of other repetitive movements – it’s as much an issue of ergonomics as it is athletics related.
However you happen to get it, dry needling can be an effective tennis elbow physical therapy treatment .
A 2017 study looked at 110 patients with lateral epicondylitis – the scientific name for tennis elbow – and split them into two groups.
The first group received dry needling, and the second received the standard tennis elbow treatment of a forearm brace and ibuprofen.
After six months, the study found that while both options helped, the dry needling was significantly more effective.
The study does admit that more research needs to be done, but these initial results are promising.
4. Knee Arthritis Pain
Osteoarthritis is a condition caused by joint swelling and inflammation.
Dry needling can’t stop the degeneration associated with arthritis.
However, the bone locking mechanism that allows you to stand with minimal effort without knee buckling is often affected in arthritis resulting in overuse of your quads.
Dry needling your quads, when appropriate, can help reduce referred pain to the knee from overworking muscles.
Further, knee range of motion is often limited due to osteoarthritis and dry needling may be able to increase range of motion in cases where motion is limited by the soft tissues.
Additionally, reducing your pain and improving range of motion will make it easier for you to participate in physical therapy and do the activities you enjoy for longer, which can further decrease your arthritis symptoms.
5. Natural Fibromyalgia Relief
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition which causes muscle pain, tenderness, and fatigue.
Individuals with fibromyalgia often develop trigger points.
Because it’s a relatively new diagnosis, fibromyalgia is not as well understood as some other pain related disorders.
However, studies show that dry needling can be effective as a form of natural fibromyalgia relief.
Not only can dry needling help to relieve the pressure from trigger points associated with fibromyalgia, but it also helps release endorphins, a natural biochemical that has similar effects to traditional pain medications, such as opioids.
By releasing these endorphins, dry needling helps your body release pain and improve fibromyalgia symptoms.
Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today
If you would like to learn more about the many benefits of dry needling, don’t hesitate to reach out.
At Capitol Physical Therapy, our expert staff has a special interest in helping you relieve your pain through minimally invasive methods.
Book your appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today.
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005
9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC