Physical Rehabilitation Group
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Outpatient Physical Therapy Since 2005

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Dry Needling Q & A

July 24, 2015

Despite being a popular topic for our team to discuss, Functional dry needling remains one of the most asked about topics in our clinics.  Often even if the patient has a basic understanding of what dry needling is there are misconceptions about it that are worth reviewing.

1) Dry needling is NOT acupuncture: while the procedures look similar to the untrained eye, dry needling uses several techniques that vary significantly from traditional acupuncture.  For example, dry needles are placed directly into knotted muscle tissues or trigger points at the point of pain, whereas acupuncture often has needle placement in a variety of areas based on eastern medicine techniques.  They also require different certifications and therefore no dry needle certified therapist will ever market what they do as acupuncture.   If you are interested in acupuncture you will need to seek out a licensed acupuncturist.  

2) Dry Needling can help both chronic and acute injuries: Often patients believe because they have had pain for a long time they would not make a good candidate for dry needling.  This is false.  While chronic or long lasting pain can often take more needling sessions to see lasting results, chronic pain patients can make significant gains or have pain resolve completely with the use of needling.  Sometimes needling is the best option for chronic pain patients because it increases blood flow and healing response to the area in question.  Conversely, patients with a new injury are sometimes hesitant to have needling done because they are afraid the area will become more irritated.  However, with these cases pain is usually caused by increased muscle trigger points and needling can provide the quickest results, with the best cases showing immediate improvement. 

3) The needles are not treated with anything: Often patients are hesitant to have needling done because of this misconception.  One of the best things about needling is that the needles do not have any medication on them which means there are no side effects and no complications with other medications.  They can also be applied over metal (such as joint replacements) so there are fewer complications or exclusions with needling than with almost any other treatment available. 

4) Fibromyalgia and needling: Again there is a misconception that if you have fibromyalgia you are not a candidate for needling.  Some of the best results patients with fibromyalgia get come from needling.  Most fibromyalgia patients dislike deep pressure because it increases their soreness.  Needling allows muscle pain to be addressed in such a way that only the muscle being treated is affected; not the more superficial muscles above it thus reducing pressure sensitivity. 

5) Conditions that can be improved through needling: Many times patients believe that only spinal conditions can be improved with needling.  Again this is false.  Training in needling includes techniques to treat headaches, jaw pain, scar tissue restriction, Tendon and ligament pain (especially in knees and ankles), muscle treatments at every joint, and even treatments to the bottom of the foot or the palm of the hand.  The best way to be sure whether or not you are a candidate is to ask your therapist if there are techniques for your specific injury. 
At Physical Rehab Group we have therapists available at each location that are certified to needle and happy to answer any of your questions so that you don’t miss out on this very valuable tool.  Please talk to your therapist today and see what we can do for you.

--Kim Snider, PT (Irmo clinic)

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