Thousands of people have reported experiencing excellent pain relief after receiving acupuncture treatments for muscle pain and mobility issues. Nonetheless, the thought of being laid on a table and pricked with tiny needles is unpleasant.
There has been a downpour in the popularity of dry needling, a drug-free method of treating musculoskeletal discomfort, mainly because it has been employed for decades. As part of a larger pain management strategy that may include exercise, stretching, massage, and other techniques, dry needling is almost always used. According to clinical rehabilitation manager Adam Kimberly, PT, DPT, and OCS, it may play a critical part in muscle recovery and pain reduction.
How does dry needling work? Dry needling employs thin, dry needles—which don't inject anything into the body—to penetrate the muscle tissue using skin. According to him, his main goal is to improve muscular and connective tissue function.
Physical therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, or medical doctors who have received training in the technique perform this procedure.
Muscles can develop knotted areas known as myofascial trigger points when overused or stressed, causing discomfort. According to Taylor, an overused muscle experiences an energy crisis in which the muscle fibers do not receive adequate blood flow. The muscle cannot return to its normal resting state unless it is fed the nutrients and oxygen it needs.
According to Kimberly, using a needle to prick a trigger point helps draw blood flow back to the area, thereby flushing it out and reducing tension. The trigger point becomes more acidic due to increased acidity in the surrounding tissue, and the nerves become sensitized, leading to soreness or pain. In addition to stimulating nerve fibers that produce endorphins, the prick sensation may stimulate other nerve fibers, resulting in a release of endorphins.
A trigger point map that notes familiar places in the body where trigger points emerge can be helpful, but every patient is a little different. A therapist palpates the area with their hands to locate a patient's trigger points. "That's where the clinician skill comes in — to palpate the area and locate the trigger point," Kimberly says.
The therapist locates a trigger point and injects a needle directly into it. The muscle spasms, known as a local twitch response, are elicited by moving the needle around a bit. This reaction can be taken as a sign that the muscle is responding.
According to Kimberly, dry needling can provide almost immediate relief to some patients. For others, it may take more than one session. Regardless, he says it's essential to keep the affected muscles loosened after treatment by continuing to move them within their new range of motion. It's normal to experience discomfort for up to 48 hours after treatment.
Is this right for you?
Your healthcare provider can let you know if dry needling might benefit muscle rehabilitation, mobility issues, or chronic or acute pain management. According to Kimberly, needling is just one part of the therapy process. It is not everything, and it may not be suitable for everyone.
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