What Exactly Does Dry Needling Do? How Can It Help?

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When exploring different pain management techniques for sore muscles and joints, one might learn about dry needling. For some, the concept of using thin, sterile needles to reduce pain and improve your body’s range of motion is intimidating. However, the procedure can do wonders for someone with ligament pain or soft tissue injuries.

Read the guide below to learn more about dry needling and what it could do for you.

Everything You Should Know About the Dry Needling Technique

If you have a tight muscular knot on a body part due to injury, overuse, or strain, you likely experience daily pain from the tightness. That knot, also called a trigger point, can restrict your range of motion and flexibility. Exercise and physical therapy can reduce that pain over time and improve your strength, range of motion, and flexibility, but dry needling can expedite recovery. 

How Dry Needling Works

As the name suggests, dry needling is a procedure involving tiny, one-use needles that don’t inject anything. Licensed and trained physical therapists and acupuncturists perform dry needling by assessing the patient to determine their trigger points. Next, they insert one or more dry needles into the painful areas to promote intramuscular stimulation.

Intramuscular stimulation can help increase blood flow and promote healing in the affected area. The needles directly target myofascial trigger points around muscles, tendons, ligaments, and scar tissue. Physical therapists sometimes use manual or electrical stimulation to help the tight tissues relax quicker. 

Dry Needling and Acupuncture

Confusing dry needling and acupuncture as the same procedure is understandable because they both involve inserting monofilament needles into a person’s body for pain relief and healing. However, the techniques have differences.

For instance, acupuncture is a 3,000-year-old technique stemming from traditional Chinese medicine. It involves inserting acupuncture needles into specific points along meridians or bodily pathways to restore energy balances and promote healing. The needles remain surface level, right below the skin. 

Dry needling, on the other hand, is a newer procedure that uses similar needles that go deeper into the body to reach trigger points in irritated muscles. Its purpose is to stimulate muscles to relax them. Dry needling has nothing to do with balancing a person’s life force or energy, which is what acupuncture deals with. 

Benefits of Dry Needling on Trigger Points

Dry needling can help reduce pain from musculoskeletal disorders and conditions like strained muscles, tendonitis, myofascial pain syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, and muscle spasms. The procedure can also help with joint issues, whiplash, and migraines. In many cases, medical professionals and therapists combine dry needling with physical therapy for a comprehensive treatment plan. 

Though it’s common to feel soreness in the treated area for up to 48 hours after the procedure, the sensation dry needling creates is similar to how your muscles feel after a good workout at a gym. Still, you’ll notice reduced pain after the initial soreness wears off in as little as one session. It takes time to rebuild muscle strength and flexibility while reducing pain with physical therapy alone, but dry needling can speed up your recovery time. 

It’s worth considering dry needling as part of your pain management treatment if you need to target specific trigger points instead of a whole muscle group. The needles can focus directly on taut muscle bands to relieve pain while helping to improve the general nervous system.

Experience the Benefits of Neuromuscular Therapy and More with Exchange Physical Therapy Group

If you’re ready to rejuvenate your body and improve your pain threshold, consider dry needling from our professionals at Exchange Physical Therapy Group. We proudly serve patients in our conveniently located state-of-the-art clinics throughout Hudson County, NJ, by providing outstanding alternative treatments and one-on-one care. We specialize in everything from dry needling to post-surgical rehabilitation. Contact our five-star rated physical therapists in Jersey City, NJ, today by calling (201) 721-6130.