What the heck is dry needling? You’ve probably heard whispers of it. I’m here to give you the low down and tell you why… it’s NOT so bad after-all.
After pregnancy, a c-section, and Endo surgery # 4… my low back was a WRECK and in need of some loving care. My doctor sent me back to physical therapy for lumbar rehabilitation – which was my fifth time in the 18+ years of chronic back pain.
The physical therapist (PT) asked me if I had ever tried acupuncture. I sighed and said, “No, because insurance doesn’t cover it.”
She smiled at me and said, “Have you ever heard of dry needling?”
Dry needling is a technique used by therapist to treat myofascial pain with an unmedicated needle that is briefly inserted into trigger points on the skin. I was apprehensive at first but, it has been the most effective method to treat fibromyalgia and back pain flare ups (from facet arthritis and spondylosis).
Through a combination of exercises assigned by my PT, dry-needling, regular exercise, and yoga, I was able to stop physical therapy treatment after just 2 months. In my opinion, it seemed as if the dry-needling had sped up the healing process for my low back.
A year later, I am back to physical therapy for a new “injury” to my spine. As it turns out, osteoarthritis has now affected my hips, lumbar region, and consequently my thoracic region too. Intense shoulder and middle back pain had me
requesting pleading for this method again. And guess what… it’s working!
Q and A’s Regarding the Technique of Dry-Needling
Question: Does it hurt when the needle goes into your skin and how far do they push it in?
Answer: In short… no, it doesn’t hurt. Yes, you can feel a little bit of pressure going into the skin, but the needles are pretty small. It’s nothing like getting your blood drawn – for those of you that hate it. The needle is only pushed into the top layer of your skin. The only time it hurts is when the muscle is too tense and the needle has a difficult time going in.
Question: Is it safe?
Answer: Yes, very! The PT’s require special certification and at least 110 hours of courses before performing it in the office on patients. The needles are sterilized and wrapped in clean packaging – only to be opened at the time of use.
Question: How long do they leave the needle in?
Answer: I’m not sure if it depends on the PT performing the technique or if it’s standard practice, but the needle is only inserted briefly. This means… it can vary from a few seconds up to 1 or 2 minutes.
Question: What types of pain or conditions can benefit from dry-needling?
Answer: A very wide range of chronic, acute, and debilitating conditions may benefit from this technique. You could consider it for… headaches, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, buttock and leg pain, fibromyalgia, sciatica, muscle spasms, shin splints, knee pain, hip pain, and more.
Question: Does it leave a scar?
Answer: Gosh, no! Again, the needles are delicate and tiny. It does, however, leave very temporary redness at the site of puncturing. I’d say the redness lasts no more than 30 minutes.
Question: How do they know where to put the needles?
Answer: The PTs are trained to follow a pattern that is best used to reduce your pain. During our last session, my very kind PT suggested putting needles in my face to reduce a problematic headache. I cringed and said… “Okay, but not too many!” It was odd at first, but it really did help.
Question: What does it look like?
Answer: The image shows me having the needles inserted into the neck. It is glorious.
*Warning: This technique should only be handled by trained professionals and should not be practiced outside of a certified health facility.
If you have questions, please leave a comment below or contact me. Thanks so much for reading!
*Above image was created with a free account on Spark.
*Below image is original and cannot be used without permission.
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