The use of dry needling to treat injuries, and promote recovery, has become more popular over the past couple of years. Most professional sports have members of their medical staff that are certified to dry needle now. Compare that to just a couple of years ago where most did not. If the pros are doing it, there is going to be a trickle down effect to the rest of the medical world. Even though dry needling has become more popular, there are still a lot of questions surrounding the application of the treatment, and what it is useful for.
What is Dry Needling?
Dry Needling uses a fine filament needle to treat trigger points. A trigger point is a tight band that you can palpate within your muscle tissue. If you press through any muscle right now you can find what feels like a ropy band of muscle. Congratulations, you have just found a trigger point. Trigger points can cause pain and lead to restrictions in movement. They also contain numerous inflammatory and pain producing chemicals. These chemicals will cause pain and dysfunction of the muscle. This consequently affects the local nerves and joints causing restriction in movement. Dry needling directly treats the trigger point to release it. The release of the trigger point also treats the neuromuscular system to improve muscle tightness, joint mobility, and decrease symptoms of pain and irritation.
What Injuries Can you Treat with Dry Needling?
Anything! Okay, maybe not anything, but we can treat a lot. Some common injuries that we use dry needling with are back/neck pain, sciatica, shoulder pain, muscle strains, tight joints, and TMJ issues. From a basic approach, anything that is painful or doesn’t move properly can benefit from dry needling. We can’t treat every muscle in the body, but we can treat a lot. Some muscles just aren’t accessible without risking injury to the surrounding tissue (more on this later).
Our staff of PTs has a collective 18 years of experience utilizing dry needling with their patients. We also have the only PT in the state that is certified to use dry needling with pelvic health conditions (Kristi Mason, MSPT). That experience makes us the best choice for anyone that is considering dry needling treatment.
What are the Risks with Dry Needling?
Unfortunately, with great power comes great responsibility (thanks Uncle Ben). Honestly, there are risks with any treatment you receive. Any time you break the skin with a needle you are going to have risks associated with that. In the case of dry needling, the biggest risk is an infection. Anytime you break the skin you are opening up your body to bacteria and infection. At OrthoCore we take 4 steps to be sure that you have a very small chance at contracting an infection due to dry needling.
Step #1 is we wear gloves to protect you from us. Everyone is carrying around bacteria on their skin. We want to be sure we don’t risk passing that onto you.
Step #2 is cleaning your skin with alcohol. You also carry bacteria on the surface of your skin. We want to be sure that surface bacteria isn’t introduced into your system.
Step #3 is cleaning our gloves with hand sanitizer. You can honestly never be too cautious.
Step #4 is using clean, unused, unopened needles. I know this sounds like common practice, but sometimes it is not (ewwww).
The other risk is compromising a tissue that you aren’t aiming for. Like I said before, you can injure any tissue with a needle. We take a couple of steps to minimize this risk as well. First, we know our anatomy. We make sure we know what tissue we are aiming for, and what surrounding tissue we want to avoid. Second, we don’t take any risks when it comes to treatment. Everyone’s anatomy is a little different. If we don’t feel like we can safely treat the target tissue we won’t.
I hope that helps answer your common questions surrounding dry needling. It is by far the most effective treatment that I know of when it comes to minimizing pain, and improving movement. If you have any questions, or want to schedule an appointment please contact us. Thank you for reading. I appreciate it!