Dry needling is a treatment technique that is aimed at curing and reducing the severity of various neuromuscular disorders. It is performed by trained physical therapists and is based on the study and understanding of the neuroanatomy as well as musculoskeletal functioning. Also referred to as the Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS), the procedure may involve the use of either solid filiform needles or hollow-core hypodermic needles. The fact that these needles are used without any medicines or injections gives it the name Dry Needling.
Dry Needling: The Process
The needles are used to prick the skin above the myofascial trigger points that are believed to be the source of pain. If the needle prick results in a local twitch response (LTR) which refers to the involuntary spinal reflex action, it means that the therapist has identified the right trigger point. The twitching helps in deactivating the trigger point in the muscles and thus providing relief to the patient. The insertion of the needle also reduces muscle contraction as it cuts or pierces through numerous fibrous tissues of the stretched muscles. The needle piercing activates the immune system and stimulates it to send signals throughout the body.
The therapist inserts the needle for a few seconds and then removes it. The process is repeated a couple of times until the LTR ceases. The therapist presses the point of insertion once the needle is removed to prevent soreness and swelling.
Listed below are a few benefits of dry needling:
- It is very effective in restoring the normal functioning of the affected muscles
- It can be used to treat a variety of physical ailments such as Tennis Elbow, Fibromyalgia, Sciatica, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, muscle spasms or strains, back pain etc.
- The therapy helps to eliminate biochemical dysfunctions
- The patient is better adapted at managing pain and other discomforting symptoms
- When used with other forms of physical therapy techniques, dry needling can significantly accelerate the rehabilitation process
- Range of motion can be greatly improved
- Dry needling not only helps in gaining therapeutic effects but also helps in locating the taut muscles (sore points) as well as diagnosing the underlying cause of the condition
- The needle insertion relaxes the muscles in the body
- Dry needling is a safe therapy as it involves fine and ‘one-time use’ sterile needles
- Patients who undergo this therapy feel more energized, are psychologically relaxed and experience holistic well-being. This therapy also improves appetite and the sleeping habits of the patients
- It improves blood flow to the muscles and prevents buildup of scar tissue