Dry needling can treat many painful chronic conditions, including lower back pain, osteoarthritis and migraines, and as such could be the key to reducing your chronic pain.
When you're in pain the idea of someone sticking needles into your body may seem weird. Most people would think this might increase their pain, but according to most practitioners of dry needling (including 3 of our LifeForce Physios) myofascial trigger point dry needling can be beneficial in treating a range of painful conditions such as tight muscles, non-specific low back pain, osteoarthritis, headaches and migraines.
In layman's terms, dry needling works by stimulating trigger points (which are hyper-irritable/tender spots) within the connective tissue or fascia.
The process involves practitioners inserting fine needles into tender/painful points, then rotating and or "pistoning" the needle for therapeutic purposes and in many cases trying to elicit a twitch response (an involuntary contraction of the muscle that tends to decrease muscle tone and nerve sensitivity).
Following this, a practitioner may either leave the needle in the muscle or tissue for a period of time or rotate and piston the needle as referred to above.
Dry needling is distinct from the Oriental system of acupuncture in that it is generally practised by physiotherapists and osteopaths.
Benefits Dry Needling
Most physiotherapists who practise this modality will report that dry needling tends to release tightened or short muscles. Research has shown that the twitch response can help relax a muscle, reduce the pull on adjacent areas and reduce the irritation of a sensitive nerve.
Dry needling is generally suitable for patients of all ages but most practitioners will not choose needle techniques for babies or children at pre-verbal stages of development.
Also, with the fear of needles being extremely common, it is important that patients fully grasp what the proposed needling treatment involves and fully understand the potential side effects that can occur during or following a treatment.
Side effects may include: fatigue, light-headedness, bruising or temporary aggravation of symptoms. Some patients are more sensitive to needling and may be prone to sudden drops in blood pressure that can lead to fainting. However, with needle-phobic people, fainting may be due to anxiety, hunger or fatigue, then there are some patients who feel excessively relaxed and sleepy following a treatment.
Needle hygiene of course is crucial - at this practice we use on sterile, single-use disposable needles, taken from its packet at the time of treatment.
Dry Needling vs Acupuncture
This is a commonly-asked question and in a way, difficult to answer, as there are many overlaps, particularly when a practitioner is a Physiotherapist.
While the treatment of myofascial trigger points with needles is the basis of both treatment modalities there are subtle differences between the two therapies.
In Physiotherapy treatments, it is common to combine needling with a range of manual techniques, such as stretching, massage and gentle articulation and manipulation of specific joints and soft tissues.
In acupuncture, however, the use of needles is more likely to be a stand-alone treatment, although traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners may also prescribe herbal formulations or combine needling with for example cupping or moxa.
LifeForce has three physios who are adept at dry needling (as well as two resident acupuncturists). Any one of these fully-qualified practitioners will be happy to assist in easing your chronic pain.