By Michi Mennecke, MPT
Sports Medicine Physical Therapist, Performing Arts Medicine Outreach
Good news! Achieve physical therapists are certified by Myopain Seminars to perform dry needling for your specific injury!
What is dry needling and how can it help you?
As defined in the Myopain seminars, “dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments. Dry needling is a technique used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle, fascia, and connective tissue and diminish persistent peripheral nociceptive input and reduce or restore impairments of body structure and function leading to improved activity and participation.”
Or, in layman’s terms, we use a thin needle to insert into a painful trigger point which can be diagnostic and therapeutic by eliciting that ‘twitch’ response. Once the twitch response has been elicited, the muscle fibers relax, inflammation is reduced and circulation can improve. That’s when we can continue to progress your physical therapy treatment!!!
Dry needling is a deeper treatment approach that may release tight tissues that may/may not have fully responded to manual treatment. There is no medication involved and your therapist is looking for a local twitch response in order to fully release the myofascial trigger point. It is a highly effective treatment technique, especially when you’re looking for that last bit of relief in PT. This treatment technique is not acupuncture.
What diagnoses can dry needling, in conjunction with additional physical therapy treatment, help?
Common uses for dry needling include: acute and chronic tendonitis such as lateral and medial epicondylitis, overuse injuries commonly seen in athletes, post-surgical pain, headaches, low back pain, shoulder pain, piriformis syndrome, sciatica, bursitis, quadriceps/hamstring injuries, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome and more.
Who can perform dry needling treatment?
Your licensed physical therapist who is certified to perform dry needling. According to the APTA, dry needling is within physical therapists’ scope of practice cited in the APTA Board of Directors policy Guidelines as a therapeutic intervention for “alleviating impairment and functional limitation” and listed among manual therapy techniques in the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice. In addition to dry needling, your therapist will choose the best treatments for your specific diagnosis which may include joint mobilizations, soft tissue mobilization/cross friction massage, Graston technique, Active Release Techniques (ART), therapeutic exercise/activities, gait training and/or neuromuscular education, kinesiotaping and/or modalities.
Is Dry Needling safe?
Dry needling is a safe treatment technique. Your physical therapist has been certified in the dry needling continuing education course/s. Your therapist has a strong foundation of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics; dry needling treatments are intended to restore normal muscle function. This treatment technique can drastically help everyone ranging from patients who are having difficulty with their activities of daily living (ADL’s) to the recreational athlete, to the professional athlete.
What should I expect after the Dry Needling treatment?
After your dry needling treatment, it is important to keep moving, increase water intake and moist hot packs and/or soaking in a hot bath can always help. You can continue with your exercise program, as long as you do not experience worsening of signs/symptoms. You may experience soreness during/after treatment; however, dry needling provides immediate feedback. You may experience muscle soreness up to 24-48 hours after treatment.
Talk to your Achieve physical therapist about your specific diagnosis and if dry needling is appropriate for you. There are contraindications including allergies, first trimester of pregnancy, needle phobia, skin lesions and abnormal bleeding tendencies, etc. Dry needling should not be performed in the presence of vascular disease, including varicose veins. Dry needling is contraindicated surrounding implants.
Lastly, dry needling is legal in the state of Illinois when performed by a licensed PT with a certification in dry needling. Dry needling can provide instant relief and is an amazing tool to improve function and reduce pain.