Dry Needling: An Innovative Treatment for Muscle & Joint Pain
Dry needling is a specialized technique that physiotherapists use to help ease pain and improve body movements that patients may be struggling with. Also known as trigger-point dry needling, this procedure uses acupuncture needles that are inserted into the skin and muscle. Not to be confused with ancient theories or traditional acupuncture rooted from Chinese medicine, dry needling is based on Western Neuroanatomy and the modern scientific study of our musculoskeletal and nervous systems.
What makes dry needling so effective is that is focuses on trigger points, which is a point in a muscle that is linked to the hypersensitive palpable nodule – aka the “knot.” This effected area becomes painful for individuals and can also radiate pain in predictable patterns elsewhere in the body. A physiotherapist is trained in identifying these hyperirritable points and pain patterns, then are able to use trigger point dry needling on superficial or deep tissue level help alleviate that pain.
The Different Forms Of Dry Needling
There are three key forms of dry needling that can be administered:
Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)
This is the most popular form of dry needling. IMS is used to treat certain types of neuropathic pain, and the process involves inserting the needle directly into the trigger point or taut band. The result is that a local twitch response (LTR) is triggered in the taut band. The therapeutic value of the LTR has been noted to enhance the release of fascia related connections, as well as reducing the inflammation around the effected area.
Superficial Dry Needling (SDN)
This alternate form of dry needling involves a process where the needle is inserted superficially diagonally to the skin surface. The needles results in being about 3-4 mm above the trigger point or painful area of the patient. SDN triggers numerous reflex painkilling mechanisms via the spinal cord and the brain.
Intramuscular electrical stimulation (IMES)
This third form of dry needling also includes current therapy. The process of IMES involves at least two needles being inserted into the taut band, which are then stimulated by light TENS currents, resulting in successful patient pain relief.
The Benefits Of Dry Needling
There are numerous benefits to dry needling. The process stimulates a certain amount of healing after each treatment, and eventually leads to the patient’s condition being healed and the pain ultimately eliminated.
There is an expansive range of musculoskeletal problems that can now be successfully treated by dry needling, including:
- Achilles tendonitis
- Arthritic conditions
- Chronic Tendonitis or Bursitis
- Low back pain
- Myofascial Pain Syndrome
- Neck pain and whiplash
- Patellofemoral syndrome
- Plantar fasciitis
- Recurrent or Persistent Injuries (including sports injuries)
- Repetitive Stain Injuries
- Sciatica/piriformis syndrome
- Shin splints
- Shoulder injuries (including frozen shoulder)
- Spinal disc problems
- Tennis/Golfers elbow
- TMJ pain
What To Expect During Dry Needling Therapy
The idea of having needles inserted into your body can seem rather uncomfortable. However, a healthy muscle feels very little discomfort with insertion of the needle during the dry needling process. A muscle that is sensitive and shortened, or has an active trigger point within it, will have a sensation similar to a muscle cramp – this is the ‘twitch’ response going into effect. There are very mild side effects from this therapy, which vary among individuals. Usually, only mild muscle soreness or slight skin bruising are left behind.
Dry Needling At Innovation Physical Therapy
Dry Needling is offered at four of our Edmonton physical therapy clinics from multiple members of our expert Physiotherapist team:
Belvedere: Krunal Patel
Meadowlark: Kamal Ponnusamy
Namao: Brian Coughlan and Nelson Wong
Sherwood Park: Nolan Tracey
Riverbend: Erica Grainger, Kamal Ponnusamy, Kendra Hatch, Kristin Milligan, and Trevor Anderson