When you think about needles and pain relief, you may automatically think of acupuncture. Dry needling is similar to acupuncture in that it uses the same type of needles. With acupuncture, needles are inserted into points of the body that are based off of ancient Chinese medicine. Dry needling inserts needles into areas that are called trigger points, or muscle knots, and tight areas of tissue in your muscles. Those points are usually hyper-irritable and may have been caused by sudden trauma or repeated injury to the tissue. These points can be either active or latent, with active trigger points causing noticeable overall pain and referred pain on a daily basis. The goal with needling is to use the process to take your overactive and tight muscles and release tension while also healing any damage.
Healing At The Point Of Pain
Once the needle makes direct contact with your muscle, your muscle responds with a twitch response or a small contraction. The contact of the needle causes mechanical changes in your muscle tissue which relaxes tension. It sparks a chemistry change inside the muscle that begins to help it heal. It’s a quick and effective way for a physical therapist who’s certified in dry needling to access multiple parts of your muscle at once. If you’ve been injured, a physical therapist can palpate around the area to locate muscle knots that need to be needled. Needling can also be used to prevent active trigger points from forming and causing pain by needling latent points in the muscles. Although not obviously painful, latent points are tender areas in the muscle that almost everyone has. You have the option of getting those points needled without necessarily being injured to prevent any future pain or loss of range of motion or flexibility.
Needling Can Be Applied To Any Injury
Any type of injury treatment can be complemented with dry needling. Rather than using your hands or a foam roller to release tension, the needle goes deep into the muscle at the point of dysfunction. Therefore, needling can be incorporated into treating sudden injuries or long-term chronic issues like sciatica or back or neck pain. You can needle any part of your body and assist with healing various injuries. You may feel soreness in the area that you were needled about 24-48 hours after your session. Afterwards, you’ll notice almost immediate pain relief in the area. In addition, you’ll also feel better muscle movement, more range of motion, and decrease of muscle spasms. If you’re an office worker, you may have developed trigger points in areas that you constantly strain by sitting at your desk all day. If you’re an athlete, treating your trigger points may help you recover faster from aches and pains while training.
Hitting The Muscular Reset Button
Releasing built-up tension in trigger points results in healthier muscles that are free of pain and less likely to get injured. Trigger points (muscle knots) can cause pain, inhibit proper muscle function, and decrease strength. Releasing tension from a trigger point is similar to hitting a reset button. After treatment, the muscle is restored to its normal length and is able to contract and relax without any pain. Anyone is able to have dry needling incorporated into their injury prevention and treatment program. Don’t hesitate to call us at Therapydia DC to see if you can have a dry needling program incorporated into your treatment program.