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Physical Therapy

What Is Dry Needling?

Dry Needling (DN) is a treatment technique in which thin filament needles are inserted in or around muscles, ligaments, tendons, scar tissue or nerves that may be causing pain.

Dry Needling (DN) is a treatment technique in which thin filament needles are inserted in or around muscles, ligaments, tendons, scar tissue or nerves that may be causing pain. The needle insertion helps to elicit natural healing by improving blood flow, breaking up fascial adhesions or myofascial trigger points (“knots” in muscles), and reducing tissue sensitivity when done in combination with electrical stimulation. The goal of this treatment is to reduce pain and dysfunction. The term dry is used because unlike injections no medication or fluid is inserted. The needle will stay inserted typically 15-20 minutes and often will be used with electrical stimulation. 

Is Dry Needling Like Acupuncture?

Acupuncture and Dry Needling do use the same type of thin sterile filament needles, however the philosophies and techniques are different. Dry Needling is based on Western medical research as well as anatomical and neurophysiologic principles, whereas acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine.  In Acupuncture, the purpose of the treatment is to alter the flow of energy along Chinese meridians for the treatment of diseases. 

What Does Dry Needling Feel Like?

Patient’s often have different descriptions of how DN feels and it can differ based on what area of the body or type of tissue is being needled. Patients often report not feeling the needle penetrate the skin and respond to the treatment reporting little, if any pain.  Some patients describe a cramping sensation or ache after needle insertion. Patients sometimes experience involuntary muscle twitches or jumps, which is a local twitch response and is a positive and normal response to the needle entering the tissue. Once the treatment is finished, patients may experience immediate relief of symptoms as well as improved range of motion. Patients may experience soreness that lasts 1-2 days.

Who Can Benefit from Dry Needling?

Dry Needling can be used for patients with both acute or chronic pain conditions. Some common conditions treated with DN include:

  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Temporomandibular disorders (TMD)
  • Low back pain and sciatica
  • Shoulder pain
  • Medial or lateral elbow pain
  • Knee pain
  • Calf pain and or plantar fasciitis

Potentia Therapeutics now offers Dry Needling. Our physical therapists will evaluate a patient to determine if Dry Needling is an appropriate treatment option. This technique will be used in addition to other evidence-based treatments including manual therapy and exercise to decrease pain and improve patient outcomes. If you have questions or think Dry Needling may help you please contact our office. 

Dry Needling for Medial Elbow pain
Dry Needling for Knee Pain

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