What is Dry Needling? Is it for Me?

The practice of “dry needling” has been safely used by health care providers, including physical therapists, since the 1970’s, though there are not many people in Minnesota who have heard the term. It is a “skilled intervention with the goal of releasing/inactivating the trigger points and relieving pain”; according to the American Physical Therapy Association. Patients can expect to see results anywhere between 2-4 visits, especially when used in conjunction with other evidence-based manual techniques, corrective exercise, and education.

How does TDN work? A filament needle is pressed through the skin to penetrate into the tight muscle in attempt to elicit a twitch, which indicates a “release” and deactivation of the muscle tension and painful trigger point.  No medication or liquid is injected, thus the term “dry” needling.  The effects of this treatment go well beyond the lengthening of a chronically shortened muscle and include biomechanical and electrical activity changes in the muscle, though most people are not very aware of such changes.  Most patients report minimal to no pain at the insertion of the needle, and experience the muscle twitch as a “cramping” sensation with residual soreness typically lasting less than 24 hours.

Patient Experience – One patient treated with this technique experienced a 90% reduction in leg pain and numbness following his first session of TDN, exercise, and education.  Another patient reported that his shoulder pain decreased from an 8/10 to a 2/10 following TDN.  I hope that I have made my point… but if I’ve left you on pins and needles wanting more information, please visit my website: www.germannpt.com.

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