Dry Needling is also known as intramuscular stimulation (IMS) and trigger point dry needling (TDN). It is a safe, effective and efficient treatment used to:
- Relax myofascial trigger points, and
- Restore normal muscle tones, muscle length, coordination, function and strength
Dry needling is a technique where fine, filiform needles are inserted by the therapist into myofascial trigger points (painful knots in the muscle) and connective tissue in order to stimulate a pain-inhibiting response. Single-use, disposable needles are used for this procedure. No injections will be performed. It has been shown to reduce pain, including referred pain, related to trigger points and other neuromuscular sources. Dry needling can produce an involuntary spinal cord reflex, also known as a local twitch response (LTR). This results in lasting muscle relaxation due to the release of shortened bands of muscle fibers for overactive (tight) muscles or the activation of under-active (weak) muscles.
Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture
Dry needling is similar to acupuncture in the sense that a dry, solid filament needle is inserted and manipulated under the skin to release endorphins and serum cortisol for pain relief. The difference is that dry needling is based on western neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It creates balance in the body by influencing the flow of Qi (energy) in pathways called meridians to achieve pain relief and alleviate inflammation.
Is Dry Needling Safe?
Overall, dry needling is considered a very safe procedure. As with any treatment, there are possible risks and it is important that you understand those prior to giving consent to treatment. Mild side effects associated with dry needling have been reported in approximately 20% of all treatment cases and include slight bleeding, bruising, and temporary pain (typically a muscular soreness type pain) being the most common.1 Other mild side effects include aggravation of symptoms, drowsiness, feeling faint, headache, and nausea, those of which have been reported in less than 1% of treatments.1
Significant side effects associated with dry needling are RARE, estimated to occur in less than .04% of total treatments, and could include fainting, vomiting, prolonged aggravation of symptoms or pneumothorax (lung puncture).1
- Symptoms of pneumothorax may occur after the treatment session, sometimes taking several hours to develop and notice.
- Symptoms include: shortness of breath, increased breathing rate, chest pain, dry cough, excessive sweating, and bluish discoloration of the skin.
- In the event such symptoms occur, please seek immediate medical attention and notify your provider.
Conditions Treated by Dry Needling
Dry needling has successfully been used to help treat a variety of conditions including:
- Head and Neck Pain - including whiplash and headaches / migraines, degenerative joint disease, degenerative disk disease or osteoarthritis, shoulder tension
- Otological (Ear) and Opthamological (Eye) Pain - including tinnitus and eye strain
- Dental (Teeth) and Orthodontic (Jaw and Occlusal) Pain - including temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, jaw clenching and muscular jaw pain
- Shoulder Pain - including rotator cuff muscle pain, bursitis, adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder), tendonitis and impingement syndrome
- Elbow Pain - including lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) and medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow)
- Hand and Wrist Pain - including gamekeeper's thumb, DeQuervain's syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis
- Back and Hip Pain - including lumbar degenerative disc disease, arthritic changes and herniated discs, hip bursitis, piriformis syndrome
- Knee Pain - including degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis
- Shin / Ankle / Foot Pain - including shin splints, metatarsalgia and Morton's neuroma
- Plantar Fasciitis (Heel Pain)
- Acute and Chronic Tendonitis
- Athletic and Sports-related Overuse Injuries
- Post-surgical Pain
- Post-traumatic Injuries, Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVA), and Work-related Injuries
- Other Chronic Pain Conditions - including myofascial pain and myofascial pain syndrome (MPS)
*Dry Needling will be performed as PART of an encompassing Physical Therapy treatment program.