Let's cut to the chase and answer some of the most common questions regarding dry needling.
What is it?
Dry needling is a broad term that basically means inserting a fine filament needle into areas of muscle with tight or painful spots, also known as trigger points. The ultimate goal is to reset the muscle and relax it to its normal resting state.
Does it hurt?
The experience of dry needling depends on the area being needled and the extent of the injury. Needling can be painful at times but mostly it is felt more as a cramp or discomfort rather than pain. When the needle is first inserted through the skin, many people don't even feel it! What most do feel is the twitch response of the muscle that happens when the needle passes through. This twitch response helps to reset the muscle and get it relaxed.
Is it safe?
Dry needling is very safe. We use individual packaged, one-use, sterilized needles and there is very little risk of an adverse reaction. Many people feel muscle soreness lasting up to 48 hours at the most. If you do happen to experience an increase in your pain after needling, don't panic. Give it 48 hours and if it still doesn't feel better, it just means that dry needling may not be for you.
What results can I expect?
Dry needling can be an effective tool for acute pain, chronic pain, and many other types of injuries. Most people will see a decrease in pain, decrease in stiffness, increase in range of motion, or increase in functional movement within just a few sessions but results can vary greatly depending on the injury and severity. You will work directly with your Physical Therapist to determine a specific plan that is individualized for you.
Is it similar to acupuncture?
Short answer, no. Dry needling is meant to treat muscular dysfunction and pain patterns that are contributing to your symptoms. Functional dry needling goes a step further and assesses the dry needling treatment effectiveness on function and movement. This allows the Physical Therapist to test and re-rest certain measurements or movements to see if dry needling helped contribute to positive change.
Acupuncture uses Eastern medicine beliefs. Treatment areas are based on meridians and energy flow pathways.
Should I try dry needling?
The answer to this question varies greatly based upon your history of symptoms, your current symptoms, and personal factors. Your Physical Therapist will perform a thorough evaluation at the first visit to decide if dry needling is an option for you. Dry needling can help to decrease pain and discomfort but it definitely isn't a quick fix to solve your problem long-term. It is even more effective when combined with other types of treatment such as hands-on therapy and exercise.
Have other lingering questions? Contact us today to find out more or to get scheduled for a dry needling session in downtown Milwaukee.