Dry Needling: A Time-Tested Method for Alleviating Muscle Pain
You may be interested in dry needling trigger point therapy if you suffer from muscle pain or mobility issues. While the idea of being poked with tiny needles may seem unnerving, an increasing number of people, including athletes and those with injuries or chronic pain, swear by its ability to provide sweet relief.
What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling has been used for decades to treat musculoskeletal pain. It is typically used with other techniques, such as exercise, stretching, and massage, as part of a larger pain management plan. However, it can be important in muscle recovery and pain relief.
How Dry Needling Works
Dry needling involves the insertion of thin, dry needles into muscle tissue, aiming to restore mobility in muscles and connective tissue. The technique is almost always used as part of a larger pain management plan, which could include stretching, exercise, massage, and other techniques.
Overused or strained muscles can grow knotted areas called myofascial trigger points. These points are irritable and can cause pain. Stimulating a trigger point with a needle can draw regular blood supply back to flush out the area and unleash the tension, in addition to firing off nerve fibers that enable the brain to release endorphins - the body's own "homemade pain cure."
See also: An Overview of Trigger Point Dry Needling.
Stimulating a trigger point with a needle enables draw normal blood supply back to wash out the area and release tension. The prick feeling can also fire off nerve fibers that stimulate the brain to release endorphins, the body's natural pain medication.
Trained physical therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, or medical doctors commonly perform dry needling. A therapist palpates the area with their hands to locate a patient's trigger points. Once located, the therapist inserts a needle directly into the point, and they might move the needle around a bit to elicit a local twitch reaction, which is a short spasm of the muscle. This reaction can be a promising sign that the muscle is reacting.
After a Dry Needling Session
Some patients experience immediate relief in their pain and mobility, while others take more than one session. Regardless, patients should continue to move their muscles within their new span of motion after treatment to keep them loose. Soreness for 24 to 48 hours thereafter is normal.
Is Dry Needling Right for You?
Dry needling is only one component of the therapy process, not the be-all, end-all for everyone. However, it can be essential in muscle recovery and pain relief. Your healthcare provider can suggest whether dry needling suits your treatment plan.
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