Merritt Davis, DOAerospace Medicine
What Is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a treatment technique that uses a solid filament needle to treat muscle trigger points that cause pain and discomfort. A muscle trigger point is a highly localized, hyper-irritable spot in a band of skeletal muscle fibers.
These muscle trigger points, which are located throughout the human body, play a role in producing and sustaining feelings of pain and discomfort. Trigger points develop in muscles for various reasons including referred or local pain, inflammation or tissue injury.
How Dry Needling Works
The stimulation of the muscle produces a twitch or rapid depolarization of muscle fibers. After this process, the muscle activity reduces, resulting in relaxation and a decrease in pain and dysfunction. Removing muscular compression on joint, nerve and vascular tissues reduces pain.
Occasionally, the needle will also reproduce “referred pain” symptoms. This is often a positive sign and confirms the trigger point as being the cause of the pain. Dry needling also stimulates the release of endogenous opioids and initiates a “new healing process.”
Dry Needling at University Health
At University Health, dry needling is a natural extension of quality, hands-on therapy. To be effective, dry needling should be performed as part of a comprehensive care plan; it reduces pain and can help you better tolerate your physical therapy and exercise plan.
Successful dry needling must be administered by a highly skilled physical therapist with advanced training in anatomy and musculoskeletal function.
Our physical therapists design a specialized treatment plan that may also include:
- Exercise programs
- Soft tissue mobilization
- Manual therapy techniques
- Proper posture education
Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture
Dry needling uses the same tool as acupuncture but with a different purpose. Dry needling is based on traditional, studied and tested practices of Western medicine to restore normal muscle function.
Traditional acupuncture practitioners follow Eastern medicine’s key principle of holistic treatment, which aims to normalize the energy imbalance, or Chi, in the body to cure syndromes.
Conditions We Treat
Acute and Chronic Overuse Injuries
- Muscle tear
- Tennis/golfer’s elbow
- Cervical/thoracic pain
- Cervico-genic headaches
- Chronic low back pain
- Myofascial pain syndrome
Upper Extremity Conditions
- Frozen shoulders
- Impingement syndrome
- Rotator cuff strain
Lower Extremity Conditions
- Achilles tendinopathy
- IT band syndrome
- Plantar fasciitis
- Patellar femoral syndrome
- Patellar tendonitis