Have you ever thought how needles could cure pain? If not, read this article. Dry needling is a process which involves the use of needles to treat pain. This is an unproven medical technique that resembles acupuncture. Read further to know in detail about dry needling and its benefits.

How Does Dry Needling Help You

1. Dry Needling 

Sticking needles into your body can be a painful task. But, what if I say it could cure your pain such as back pain, muscle pain, neck pain, musculoskeletal pain, or any other muscle pain and tightness. Dry needling therapy could do wonders and could help you relieve pain. To become an expert in this, one must take up training courses.

While both acupuncture and dry needling share the same aim – providing relief from pain, the process differs completely. The dry needling practitioners use dry needles to release tension from pressure points present in muscles, whereas, acupuncture practitioners use needles that helps to release endorphins.

The key purpose of this medical technique is to relieve muscle cramping and pain. At the same time, it also helps to enhance the flexibility of a person.

2. Procedure

Dry Needling

A thin needle is pushed inside the human body – through the skin. This, in turn, stimulates the trigger point present in the muscle. This alternative therapy releases the tight muscles and cramps that are related to the trigger point.

It also releases hard knots that are present within the muscle which could cause severe pain over a large area of the body.

Acupuncture mainly focuses on the flow of energy within and around the bodily organs as well as the entire body, whereas, dry needling technique unblocks energy meridians present within the body. Also, needling helps to create a balance within the entire human body.

Dry Needling involves the following steps:

  • Initially, the therapists examine the target/affected muscle and identify the trigger point.
  • The needle is placed on the trigger point with the help of a pincer grip.
  • The dry needle is slowly guided towards the trigger point. This is done until the patient reacts or feels a local twitch.
  • Once the exact trigger point is located, the needle therapist focuses on this particular area/affected area. The therapist draws the dry needle back towards the tissue that is directly present under the skin without removing the needle from the skin.
  • By this way, the needle is directed to all other trigger points.
  • The needle is then slowly removed; the therapist applies pressure directly to the skin in order to prevent swelling or any other side effects.

One important aspect to be noted is that the needles that are injected does not include any liquid, and nothing is injected into the body.

Another important fact is that anyone, a sports therapist or other physical therapists, can perform dry needling procedure. This medical procedure does not have any proper regulation or guidelines; therefore, anyone can perform this needling procedure with minimal training. Also, no license is required for performing this procedure.

Needling therapists follow two or more ways to perform this procedure; the most common way is to just leave the needle inside the muscle for 10 to 30 minutes. The following are other 2 ways of performing dry needling procedure:

In and Out Technique – During this procedure, the practitioner slowly inserts the filiform dry needle into the muscle – exactly into the trigger point – and removes it immediately. However, results show that this form of needling procedure does not provide any benefit to the patient.

Non-Trigger Points Technique–During this procedure, the practitioner slowly inserts the dry needles into the surrounding muscles – around the trigger points, instead of directly inserting it on the knots or on the pressure points.

3. Benefits of Dry Needling

Some of the major benefits of performing dry needling procedure include:

3.1 Relaxes Tight Muscles

This procedure acts as a “reset” button for you as it helps in relaxing your muscles. Practitioners or physiotherapists can easily identify these trigger points or knots and they can use this needling procedure to restore these knots to its actual length. Though the actual mechanism of this procedure is not fully known, this procedure actually works by modifying the electrical activities in these muscles. This action, in turn, results in a twitch which actually resets your muscles into the normal length.

3.2 Enhances Blood Flow

If you have tight muscles, this could cause pain that affects other parts of your body. Use of dry needling procedure triggers these knots and releases them. This results in relaxed muscles and, in turn, boosts the blood flow.

3.3 Reduces Pain and Releases Neurotransmitters 

Performing dry needling procedure triggers your muscles and activates your body. This results in the release of opiate peptides neurotransmitters and this includes enkephalins, beta-endorphins, and dynorphins. Because of this, the pain is reduced.

3.4 Improves Movement  

Patients who are undergoing dry needling treatment can visibly see an improvement in their daily activities or the way they move. This improvement in the movement is because of the dry needling procedure that removes the knots.

3.5 Helps in Treating Chronic Pain  

Implementing dry needling procedure can treat a broad range of pain – from acute to chronic. Dry needling procedure is used to cure:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Muscle cramp
  • Low back pain
  • Migraines
  • Sciatica
  • Spinal disorder/dysfunction
  • Tennis elbow
  • Plantar fasciitis

The major disadvantage of facing an injury is the recovery part. Patients who suffer from severe pain can opt for dry needling procedure. This is one of the ideal medical technique that stimulates quick healing and speeds up the recovery process.

Though there is no standardized procedure to perform dry needling technique, it seems to be effective when performed properly. Most of the studies that are published on dry needling technique does not provide any strong evidence. But when performed by a trained, licensed, or professional therapists, this procedure seems to cure chronic pain.

(Last Updated On: October 29, 2020)

A senior academic researcher, reviewer, and editor, Dr. Declan Pouros is also an internationally accredited psychotherapist. He earned his PhD in Psychological Counseling and Guidance, and in the years since, he has taught in the Department of Psychological Counseling and Guidance himself.He has also authored papers that have gone on to appear in such world-renowned journals as the European Journal of Psychological Assessment, Psychological Reports, the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. Asia Pacific Psychiatry, and Computers in Human Behaviour.

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