Applying a needle to an area with dysfunction and pain is like calling 911 to an address for an emergency. The needle acts as the phone call alerting the brain that there is a problem at a specific site or address in the body. The brain and body react by focusing healing into the area with the lesion. As an aside and in my experience, the vast majority of patients don’t feel more than pressure and in over 90% of the treatments, the needle width will not cause any bleeding.
Dry Needling (DN) is an intervention performed by a skilled healthcare professional. This professional will use a fine filiform needle to penetrate the skin and create a healing response in the tissue that has been lesioned. Tissues contributing to neuromusculoskeletal (nerve, muscle, bone) dysfunction can be effectively dry needled. Tissues that respond well to dry needling include muscle, fascia, tendon, capsule, ligament, peripheral nerve, and microvascular structures. Patients who present with pain syndromes, neuromusculoskeletal disorders, and impaired movement in joints can all benefit from dry needling. A small list of these conditions includes Trigger Points, scar tissue, myofascial adhesion, strains, sprains, hip and shoulder restrictions, and so on.
Dry Needling is simply an extension of our practice. Our clinic is aimed at treating the patient from a holistic standpoint. Due to this, we move toward our dry needling interventions on a holistic and very patient-by-patient specific approach. Pain generators can come from several structures in the body, and at times, there may be no identifiable pain generator at all. Having this understanding and knowledge of the entire body allows us to approach a problem area from many angles.
As an example; say you have a persistent Trigger Point in the lower leg. After a thorough exam and diagnosis have confirmed that the condition warrants DN, we can begin treatment in the specific site which includes muscle and Trigger Point treatment and then trace the neurology (in this case, the nerve(s) that serve the tissue affected by the Trigger Point) and use DN therapy along that path for better results. Further effectiveness can be attained by using different needling techniques for the tissues all the way to adding an electrical stimulation to the needles once in place to aid the healing of the site and relaxing the tissue treated beyond the typical DN protocol.
The chart below is a great example of the many levels that can be effected through appropriate DN techniques.