You've probably heard of dry needling therapy before. It's a treatment performed by licensed health care specialists used to treat various neuromuscuoskeletal conditions. In this article, we'll show you five health benefits of dry needling, and we'll answer the question everyone asks, "Is dry needling painful?"
Often, patients notice a reduction in their pain before they even leave the office. Dry needling uses fine filiform needles to penetrate trigger points (muscle knots) and the surrounding tissues to relax the musculature and increase blood flow, thus reducing pain. Trigger points can be found in any muscle of the body. The most common muscles that we treat with dry needling are:
Dry needling helps to improve range of motion by decreasing trigger points and relaxing the musculature. When muscles get tight, they may not function optimally, reducing joint range of motion. It is thought that trigger points are the result of muscle fibers (sarcomeres) that become overactive. This overactivity causes local inflammation, reduced blood flow, pain, and shortening of the muscle fibers. Dry needling therapy aims to create micro-lesions in the musculature to increase the healing response, reduce inflammation, relax the muscles, and decrease pain.
A local healing response takes place when micro-lesions are present as a result of dry needling. This healing response includes increasing the number of white blood cells and blood flow to the area. With increased blood flow and white blood cells, the site is ready to heal the dysfunctional tissue.
Dry needling stimulates blood flow and circulation in the treatment area. Increasing blood flow is essential because it increases the number of white blood cells and other factors responsible for healing the affected tissue.
Some patients may have an upregulated (or hyper-active) central nervous system (CNS) which is often responsible for chronic pain and other conditions. Dry needling can help to regulate the CNS by stimulating these neural pathways.
Dry needling involves the use of fine monofilament needles. These needles are different than needles used for injection (wet needling). Needles used for injection require an opening for a substance to travel through - sometimes requiring a larger diameter. Dry needling needles are typically between 0.15 to 0.30mm in diameter. For reference, insulin needles (which are among the smallest needles available for injections) are usually around 0.261 to 0.34mm in diameter, while needles for vaccine injections are generally about 0.50mm to 0.70mm.*1 In general, the smaller the diameter of the needles, the less pain and better patient compliance.
The needles we use are sterile single-use needles made from surgical stainless steel. If you have a metal allergy, you can request gold-plated needles for treatment (please call our office before scheduling to ensure we have gold-plated needles in stock).
Sometimes during the procedure, you may feel an achy sensation or a tingling feeling that radiates to other areas. If you feel any of these sensations, let your chiropractor know, and they will adjust the needle accordingly to make the procedure as comfortable as possible.
Bruising and soreness are common occurrences that may be a result of dry needling. Discuss these and other potential side effects with your chiropractor before treatment.
If you have any discomfort after the treatment, let your chiropractor know so that they can adjust the treatment accordingly.