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What is Dry Needling? 

What is Dry Needling? 

Date: January 17, 2023

Almost 1/3 of therapists at Aligned Orthopedic & Sports Therapy are certified in Dry Needling. This number continues to increase as more therapists work towards earning their dry needing certification and other therapists join the practice, but what exactly is dry needling? 

Dry needling is a Western medicine treatment that doesn’t involve the use of medication or injections. It is performed by a skilled physical therapist who is certified in dry needling, which means that the PT has completed post-graduate education and training in it. A therapist uses single- use monofilament needles that are placed into trigger points. Trigger points are tight spots in a muscle that can limit motion, cause pain locally or referred pain (pain in a nearby location). Needles can also be inserted into the muscle belly, scar tissue, tendons, and ligaments to help with pain.  When the needle is placed into the trigger point or muscle, this will cause the muscle to contract and relax.  

How Does Dry Needling Work? 

Dry needling has been shown to improve flexibility, range of motion, decrease pain, and can be used as an adjunct to therapy to help patients achieve their goals. Often it takes several treatments before patients notice these changes. Research also shows that dry needling helps to improve nerve conduction and blood flow which aids in recovery. It is helpful in treating patients with the following diagnoses among many others: 

  • Back pain (including neck pain and sciatica)
  • Shoulder and elbow pain
  • Knee pain
  • Muscle strains/pain including buttocks and calves
  • Migraines and cervicogenic headaches (headaches coming from the neck).

Dry Needling vs Acupuncture 

Dry Needling is different from acupuncture as the goal of acupuncture is to balance the chi (flow of energy or life force) in our body. It is thought that acupuncture points stimulate the central nervous system and promote healing. While acupuncture involves the insertion of the same type of needles, the principles used in acupuncture are very different.  

What is Dry Needling Like? 

Dry needling usually does not cause any pain, but you may experience soreness the next day. The initial insertion of the monofilament may occasionally be painful, as sometimes the muscle twitches elicited can be uncomfortable. However, these muscle twitches are a desirable effect of the treatment. The number of monofilaments used, and number of sessions will vary based on individual patient characteristics. Your therapists will provide you with an overall plan of care and an idea of what to expect during each treatment.  

Schedule an Appointment Today! 

At Aligned Orthopedic & Sports Therapy, many of our offices offer dry needling as an adjunct to therapy. If you are interested in adding dry needling to your treatment plan, call to schedule today! 

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