What is Dry Needling? / What conditions is it good for?
Dry needling is an extremely effective technique utilized by Chiropractors, Physical Therapists and Medical Doctors as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for musculoskeletal injuries, injury prevention and recovery from exercise. Dry needling has been shown to reduce pain, control inflammation, relax soft tissue and stimulate the body’s natural tissue repair process without the use of pharmaceuticals such as pain killers, steroids and muscle relaxants. The goal of all therapy should be to help patients heal more effectively and functionally from their injury, establish stability and get a patient back out there doing what they love. Dry needling is one more tool in the bag that we utilize here at the Aspen Club Sports Medicine Institute to make the healing process as efficient as possible.
Dry needling can be utilized during the various stages of the healing process. It’s great for acute, subacute and chronic injuries to the soft tissues. Soft tissue injuries include muscle spasm, muscle strains or tears, ligament sprains, tendonitis, myofascial pain and nerve irritation. Dry needling has been shown effective with treating chronic and acute pain such as neck, upper back and low back pain, sciatica, TMJ syndrome, tendonitis (such as tennis elbow and golfers elbow), hip and knee pain, plantar fasciitis, torn or strained muscles, rotator cuff injuries, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Dry needling is also excellent for injury prevention as well as recovery from long workouts. In today’s athletic environment, there is enormous evidence stating that overtraining is common, counterproductive, and leads to injury. Most of us Aspenites are guilty of overtraining. The body needs time to repair after workouts in order to be able to adapt to the stressors placed on the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments and tendons.) When soft tissues are not given time to recover, they become contracted or tight. Contracted muscles cannot draw power the way relaxed or supple muscles do. This places aberrant strain on the fascia, muscles, tendons and ligaments. If you challenge contracted, tight muscles, they become more prone to failure and injury. Dry needling is extremely effective at helping contracted soft tissue relax and recover more efficiently. There is an entire industry today focused on developing products designed with the intent of reducing recovery time between training sessions and competitions. In my opinion, time is the most important factor when allowing the body to heal and for most, time is in short supply. Dry Needling works with the body’s natural healing physiological system and should be a part of every athlete’s recovery program.
How does it work? /What is the intent?
Sterile, fine filament “needles directly stimulate and relax the skeletal muscles by creating tiny lesions in the muscles. The lesions created by needling stimulate the spinal cord and brain to secrete neurobiochemicals such as endorphins, which relax the smooth muscles, cardiac muscles, and skeletal muscles.” (Dr. Ma: “Biomedical Acupuncture for Pain Management” p.8) Simply put, when specialized fine filament needles are placed into the soft tissues of the body (i.e. muscle, fascia, ligaments, tendons, and nerves), the body’s immune system responds immediately by sending chemicals needed to heal that tissue. Microcirculation to the injured area is increased allowing for increased fluid exchange, nutrition exchange, oxygenation, and collagen repair of the injured tissue. A contract relax reflex is also elicited when the needles are placed into skeletal muscle, encouraging contracted muscles to relax and become more supple and functional. This translates into a decrease in pain, faster healing, faster recovery and reducing risk of overuse injury.
How is it different from Acupuncture?
Dry needling and Acupuncture are very different techniques that both use a similar tool, the acupuncture needle. Acupuncture’s analysis focuses on the meridian system and balancing the body’s energy or Chi. Dry Needling was developed upon the principals of marrying Eastern and Western Medical Science. With Dry Needling, the focus is on the nervous system and the innervated soft tissues. By using a needle to stimulate the nerve that controls a muscle, we attempt to normalize dysfunction in the soft tissue, balance the musculoskeletal mechanics, restore systemic homeostasis, and promote self-healing.
Is Dry Needling Painful?
The protocol utilized by Dr. Pete is extremely safe, gentle and virtually painless. Each treatment is catered to the patient’s comfort and tolerance. There are certain tissues in the body that when contacted are a bit more sensitive than others. Dr. Pete uses attentive care and precise analysis to keep treatments comfortable and safe. Please contact the Aspen Club Sports Medicine Institute for more information concerning Dry Needling and to find out if it’s an appropriate treatment option for your condition.