Maybe you have back pain and are considering a technique called dry needling, but you’re not really sure what that means or what a treatment might entail. All you’ve heard was a co-worker raving about the relief they obtained after a treatment and that made you interested. You have tried other treatments….rest, medication, imaging, possibly physical therapy, or the dreaded I’m going to fix myself looking up things on the internet… (sticking with the OH MY theme on the blog), but your symptoms are still there. Let’s discuss more about dry needling.
Dry needling is a technique which uses solid filiform needles, which are often called acupuncture needles. This needle is designed for one time use and is usually a very thin stainless steel. Confusion usually creeps in over the fact that dry needling uses acupuncture needles. It’s important to point out acupuncture and dry needling are completely different, they both use the same needles but the location and purpose is vastly different. Acupuncture is generally based on qi, an energy form that travels in the body along meridians and treatment is attempting to rebalance this energy. Dry needling is based on scientific knowledge and anatomy which attempts to treat pain and trigger points by releasing the body’s natural hormones and chemicals. The term “dry” comes from the fact that the needle does not contain medication. Dry needling treatments vary depending on the desired effect, but may vary from a quick in and out of the needle to leaving multiple needles in up to 30 minutes. Electrical stimulation can be used to enhance the effect in many cases. I know, hooking up electricity via alligator clips to needles stuck in my body!?! WHOA, I don’t know if I signed up for this right? Most people have had electrical stimulation or even TENS treatments if you’ve experienced pain in the past. When receiving these treatments, you are using the same electrical current, but instead of needles you are using a sticky electrode that goes on the surface of the body. Where higher levels of electricity are needed to get through the layers of tissue when using an electrode, the electricity needed to stimulate a needle is MUCH less because it’s located directly in the effected structure. It’s the equivalent of watering the entire yard with a sprinkler hoping to hit the flower bed, when you can take a watering can and directly water the flowers. Much better results in less time! Treatments can result in significant pain relief and muscle relaxation, which when combined with the proper exercise can yield large gains. Large gains allow you to return quicker to THE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO! Do I have you excited yet?
Ryan Goodman is owner of Goodman Performance Therapy LLC and the Team Physical Therapist for the Columbus Blue Jackets with experience in Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Injuries.