You may have heard of a technique called dry needling for pain relief, but what is it and how exactly does it work? Lori Magnuson, PT, CMTPT, clinical manager at the Sheltering Arms Hull Street Center, earned her dry needling certification, a process which included 92 hours in the classroom followed by an exam with both written and practical components. She has answered the following questions to help explain the treatment and how it may be helpful for you.
What is dry needling?
Dry needling is a treatment using a solid filament needle, which is placed into a tight band of muscle fibers known as trigger points, to relieve pain. It is performed in conjunction with other therapies such as stretching and strengthening.
How do I know if it will be effective for me?
Dry needling is an effective treatment for both acute and chronic injuries and conditions. Some of these may include:
- myofascial pain syndrome
- joint dysfunction
- disc pathology (pinched nerves, nerve irritation, etc.)
- changes in flexibility and motion
- tightness and tenderness in the muscles
- sprains and strains
Who performs dry needling?
Dry needling can be performed by a number of medical professionals, including physical therapists. Physical therapists can combine dry needling with other techniques into one comprehensive treatment plan.
It is not an entry level skill, but an advanced procedure that requires specialized education and training. A physical therapist using dry needling must complete at least 54 hours of post-professional training, including providing demonstration of competencies and skills as per practice guidelines.
Does it hurt?
You may experience some discomfort during the procedure and/or for a period of time following the session. Most often the benefit outweighs the discomfort. You should always address your concerns with your therapist and remember that it is your option to continue.
What kind of benefits can I expect?
With effective dry needling, you can expect decreased pain, increased mobility, and increased strength.
To learn more about dry needling, take a look at this recent Medical Minute from WRIC Channel 8.
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