Dry needling is a treatment procedure that comes in handy in improving movement and reducing muscle pain. The alternative name for dry needling procedure is intramuscular manual therapy or intramuscular stimulation. The treatment procedure involves using filiform needles to relieve pain in the muscles and enhance movement. It’s effective in treating dysfunctions in the skeletal muscle, connective, and fascia tissues. During treatment, a physician places a needle in myofascial trigger points. Dry needling is more than an alternative treatment. It’s an accepted and proven form of modern medicine. If you seek a reliable dry needling treatment in Torrance, CA, contact Trinity Acupuncture for reliable services.
Difference Between Dry Needling and Acupuncture
Most people assume that dry needling and acupuncture are similar. However, when it comes to their purpose, the two treatment procedures are different. The only similarity between dry needling and acupuncture is that both procedures rely on thin needles to relieve pain. Acupuncture involves releasing your energy flow along the meridians. On the other hand, dry needling helps relieve pain in the neuro-muscular systems by stimulating the trigger points.
There are no historical ties between dry needling and acupuncture. Acupuncture is based on movement physical therapy (Eastern Tradition). On the other hand, dry needling revolves around Western medical research and principles. However, most people still assume that dry needling is a form of acupuncture.
Dry Needling for Chronic Pain Relief
Dry needling is an effective treatment procedure that:
- Help enhance the range of motion in joints
- Improves blood flow
- It helps relax tight muscles
- Reduces pain
- Improves strength
- Enhances the recovery process from injuries
A significant percentage of the U.S. population suffer from musculoskeletal diseases. Musculoskeletal disorders are mainly common in adults above 65 years. The most common musculoskeletal disorders for which people seek treatment include back pain, arthritis, and trauma. Dry needling is effective in treating all these conditions.
Some of the benefits that you are likely to reap from a dry needling procedure are:
- Better sleep quality
- Increased energy levels
- Improved appetite
Dry needling can help prevent the need for medication and surgery. Trigger points and tight muscles are often invisible to X-rays, CTs, and MRIs, which is the main reason why people turn to dry needling. During treatment, a qualified expert inserts the needle into your skin and muscle, directly to the tight knots on the muscles. The tights knots are known as trigger points. Trigger points could cause and refer pain to the rest of your body. The mechanism of dry needling is not fully understood. Experts point out that the procedure works by altering the electrical activity in a region, resulting in a twitch response. The treatment helps to reset your muscles back to their normal resting length. Dry needling serves as a reset button to the muscles.
Dry needling is effective in treating a wide range of conditions. It can help you with both chronic and acute pain conditions like:
- Tendinosis/Achilles Tendonitis
- Carpal Tunnel
- Back pain
- Disk Pathology
- Joint dysfunction
- Ligament strains
- Muscular strains
- Phantom pain
- Spinal dysfunction
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Whiplash disorders
- Muscular strains
Understanding How Dry Needling Works
Practitioners place filiform needles in trigger points without injecting any fluid into the body. The needles are fine, short, and made from stainless steel. The disposable filiform needles have a thickness of between 0.16mm to 0.3mm and a length of 1.5cm to 6 cm. The needles are placed in areas where the muscles are hard or knotted, mainly in the tendons, near nerves, or ligaments. The needles will stay in the skin for 10 to 30 minutes.
When the practitioner places a needle in a muscle knot or a trigger point, you will twitch. Twitching is therapeutic and diagnostic because healthy muscles do not twitch, even when stimulated with a needle. When you twitch briefly, the muscle fibers in the target area will relax, helping reduce inflammation.
The practitioner uses the filiform needle to feel around and determine the quality of the tissues being penetrated. When the needle penetrates the skin, the body releases cytokines, CGRP, and substances. Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide (CGRP) causes a chain of reactions, leading to increased blood vessel formation, vasodilation, and increased tissue repair. When the needle penetrates the skin, injury signals are sent to the brain. The brain creates a series of events aimed at repairing and replacing damaged tissue with healthy tissue.
After undergoing a dry needling procedure, you will notice improved mobility and reduced pain within 24 hours.
Typical Dry Needling Techniques
There are four typical dry needling techniques:
- Non-trigger point technique
- Superficial dry needling
- Intramuscular stimulation
- Intramuscular electrical stimulation
Non-Trigger Point Technique
The non-trigger point technique involves inserting the needles in the areas surrounding the target point or the area of pain. The reasoning behind this technique is that a problem may exist in the surrounding areas and not just the area of pain. The pain could be a result of a more significant muscular or nerve issue.
Intramuscular stimulation (IMS) involves inserting a needle directly into the taut band or the trigger point. This technique helps to trigger a twitch response. This dry needling technique targets the muscle directly. It can be challenging to manually manipulate a particular muscle depending on the target muscle location and the tissues surrounding the muscle. Through intramuscular dry needling, practitioners can get into the target muscle, change the pain perception, decrease tightness, and impact scar tissue.
Like a laser, exercise therapy, ultrasound, and other intervention, intramuscular dry needling has a high risk and could pose a risk if not performed by a person who understands the human anatomy. It would be best if you only had this procedure performed by a qualified professional. The needle length for intramuscular dry needling varies depending on the target muscles. Intramuscular dry needling would be an ideal option if your piriformis muscle is tight and causing sciatic nerve pain. Through the intramuscular dry needling, the practitioner can get past the tissue and the glute muscles. Reduce piriformis tightness and reduce pain.
Superficial Dry Needling
Superficial dry needling, commonly abbreviated as SDN, involves inserting the needle slightly, usually 1 to 4mm above the trigger point. Instead of penetrating the skin straight on, the needle penetrates the skin at a slant. This procedure helps to trigger reflex analgesic mechanisms through the brain and the spinal cord.
Superficial dry needling is a standard procedure among many health practitioners. The needle is inserted to reach the epidermal layer and doesn’t reach the muscles or the bones. This dry needling procedure targets the sensorimotor system. As the need changes the sensory input, it changes the motor output and alters pain significantly.
Superficial dry needling is low-risk because the needle doesn’t penetrate many layers of the body. There is little to no risk of causing damages to the neurovascular structures or vital organs. Typically, the needles used in superficial dry needling are short. In areas like the thoracic spine, there is a risk of puncturing the lungs if the needle penetrates too deep. Superficial dry needling comes in handy in reducing pain while preventing a potential injury.
Intramuscular Electrical Stimulation
Intramuscular electrical stimulation, abbreviated as IMES, involves placing two or more needles into the taut band and using light TENS currents to stimulate the needles. Electrical stimulation helps trigger a neuroendocrine response which is different from the stimulation derived from the needles alone. Intramuscular electrical stimulation taps into several pathways and pain modulation centers in the central nervous system, making it an ideal choice for patients with osteoarthritis and patients experiencing chronic pain.
Intramuscular electrical stimulation poses a moderate risk, especially in people with pacemakers or other devices. The practitioner must take into account all the associated risks on a case-to-case basis.
Intramuscular electrical stimulation involves using long needs given that there isn’t enough epidermis with superficial needling for the attachment of electrical stimulation. The needle used must penetrate the muscles or even down to the bones if need be.
Choosing the Right Dry Needling Method
The best dry needling technique will depend on several factors:
- The practitioner’s expertise and experience — A practitioner should have confidence in using a particular dry needling technique to bring positive change to a patient.
- The ideal method will also depend on how comfortable a patient is with a specific dry needling procedure. A practitioner must consider whether the patient has any conditions or symptoms that might discourage them from being ideal candidates for dry needling.
- The pathology also matters, and a practitioner must consider whether a patient presents a well-defined condition that can be affected through dry needling.
Whether Dry Needling is a Safe Procedure
If you intend to undergo dry needling, you might be wondering whether the procedure is safe. Dry needling is safe as long as a well-trained and experienced practitioner performs it. A skilled practitioner will use the proper techniques and equipment while upholding the highest hygiene standards.
Does dry needling have some side effects? Some of the possible side-effects of dry needling include muscle soreness, dizziness, rare cases of fatigue, and in some cases, bruising. Between 1% and 3% of patients may experience dizziness and drowsiness. Bleeding and bruising may occur in 15% to 20% of the patients. Between 60% and 70% of patients experience temporary pain after undergoing dry needling.
In most cases, you won’t feel the needle insertion, though the insertion can create a brief pain response. If a physician inserts the needle close to the trapezius muscle and pierces the lung, partial or full collapse might occur. However, an experienced practitioner will never dry a needle close to the inflated lungs. If you have anxiety about treatment or fear needles, dry needling might not be an ideal treatment procedure for you.
Current Medical Science and Research on Dry Needling
Many physicians and practitioners support dry needling due to the scientific studies that support dry needling. Many primary care physicians accept dry needling. Dry needling is a reliable treatment option that has proved to be an effective form of pain relief.
The concept of dry needling dates back to the 1940s when medical doctors David Simons and Janet Travell discovered the concept of myofascial trigger point therapy. Dry needling started with injecting substances like saline, analgesics, and corticosteroids into the trigger points. In the eighties, Dr. C Gunn and Dr. P. Baldry helped develop the concept of dry needling. Other medical experts improved the concept of dry needling over time. Currently, dry needling is a popular procedure worldwide. Dry needling is particularly popular in the treatment of athletes across the world.
What To Expect During a Dry Needling Appointment
During your first appointment or evaluation, the practitioner will exert pressure on your skin at different locations. By doing this, the practitioner can assess the effectiveness, prognosis, and duration for utilizing the dry needling technique.
The first dry needling appointment takes around one hour; a patient fills out the necessary paperwork outlining their health history. The practitioner then completes a musculoskeletal assessment and examination.
The initial evaluation is crucial because it helps the dry needling practitioner determine the number of dry needles to use while considering its response. After the first assessment, the practitioner will decide whether you are a good candidate for dry needling.
The practitioner may perform the dry needling treatment once a week for two to three weeks. Most patients require eight or fewer dry needling sessions. If you suffer from chronic pain, you may need more dry needling sessions than a person suffering from acute pain.
Finding the Right Dry Needling Expert
Different practitioners provide dry needling treatment. However, every practitioner is unique and offers a unique treatment. The benefit you derive from dry needling treatment highly depends on your choice of practitioner. When choosing a dry needling practitioner, it’s essential to inquire about the practitioner’s education, credentials, and experience. You could also consider whether the practitioner is covered under your insurance policy.
Find a Dry Needling Practitioner Near Me
You can derive many benefits from a dry needling procedure. The leading benefits include improved mobility and pain relief. If you seek reliable dry needling treatment in Torrance, CA, you can count on Trinity Acupuncture for the best services. We have well-trained and experienced dry needling experts who will ensure that you receive the best from the procedure. Contact us at 310-371-1777 and speak to one of our experts.