Dry needling is utilized to decrease tone (tension/restrictions) in muscle, stimulate (wake up) muscles with electrical stimulation, increase blood flow for osteoarthritis (OA), decrease stiffness associated with OA, break up scar tissue, decrease inflammation, and decrease pain through changes in the brains interpretation of painful stimuli. Dry needling allows physical therapists to have a substantial impact on deeper anatomical structures that were previously problematic to treat. Dry needling is used for conditions ranging from neck and back pain, hip pain (OA), knee pain (OA), plantar fasciitis/osis, TMD (jaw issues), Bells palsy, nerve pain such as ‘sciatica’/ ‘carpel tunnel’, rotator cuff ‘impingement’, ‘golfers elbow’ (lateral epicondylitis), and achilles tendinitis/osis, as well as many more. Current research is continuing to mount demonstrating substantial effect sizes for treating painful conditions with dry needling resulting in improved outcomes and pain scores, and reduced disability. In some regions dry needling is used diagnostically to determine the need for surgery in knee/hip (OA) patients as well as carpel tunnel patients. Patients are referred to physical therapy for dry needling as a litmus test; if the patient is successful, then surgery is no longer an option at that time, and ‘booster’ sessions are used, as needed, to maintain less pain and improve function.
Our method of dry needling is performed by leaving the needles in situ (in the body) for 10-30 minutes, typically with electrical stimulation. This technique is generally more comfortable for patients and has been demonstrated in research (large randomized controlled trials) to have greater effects than ‘pistoning’, which is typically performed by physical therapists. We also utilize twisting or rotation of the needles, which has also been demonstrated in research, to mechanically change (stretch) myofascial structures as well as change cellular migration into injured areas. Commonly used in conjunction with dry needling is spinal manipulation, which has revealed the best results for spinal pain and dysfunction when compared in isolation or to traditional services. Dry needling’s positive results have been demonstrated in both the long term (years) as well as short term (immediately after application), resulting in less time in pain, and decreased physical therapy visits and recurrence of injuries.