While many people have now heard of acupuncture as a common type of therapy, most are still new to the therapy known as “dry needling.” This therapy, which can be offered at many Denver physical therapy offices, is a similar type of care that utilizes very thin needles to trigger muscle points that promote natural healing throughout the body. Compared to the more invasive types of healthcare, like surgery or medication, many patients prefer dry needling as a safer and more holistic way to treat pain, headaches, poor circulation, and other health issues.
But what exactly is dry needling? And how does it work? Here, we’re taking a closer look at dry needling and how this unique type of therapy works. We also review who can be effectively treated by this type of care and we answer perhaps the most common question regarding dry needling—is it safe?
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What is Dry Needling?
Before we dive into the benefits and common questions regarding this type of therapy, let’s first start with the basics here. What exactly is dry needling? This unique form of therapy is surprisingly common and is even offered in many physical therapy offices found across the country. The process is relatively simple. Dry needling uses very thin monofilament needles to penetrate the surface of the skin. This tiny motion then targets specific muscular trigger points in the body. Some of these common areas will tend to include your calf muscles, hamstrings, and at the upper trapezius. Dry needling can specifically target “problem” areas throughout your body.
As a result of this action, many patients may experience quick and lasting pain relief, improved blood flow and circulation throughout the body, and reduced muscle tension. For some patients, dry needling can even work to gradually restore mobility in the joints and benefit the health of your nervous system. Dry needling, for many patients, is often used in tandem with other forms of physical therapy and treatment. These may include sports injury recovery or general physical therapy to offer patients a safe and holistic approach to care and recovery.
How Does Dry Needling Work?
Dry needling is much more than just sticking needles in a patient’s body. Dry needling is an evidence-based treatment method that has become increasingly popular over the last few decades. Unlike the treatment of acupuncture, which has been used in traditional eastern medicine for centuries, dry needling is a much newer type of treatment. Dry needling encourages your body to heal naturally to boost recovery and treat musculoskeletal injuries.
So, how exactly does this treatment work? When the thin needles are inserted into the muscle trigger points, this action creates a small lesion that spurs your body’s natural healing response. This process works to heal injured or inflamed soft tissue. As the body releases key chemicals in its healing response, patients can experience quick pain relief, better motion throughout the body, and a faster, much longer-lasting recovery.
Who Could Be Treated with Dry Needling
At first, you may not be sure if you’re even a solid candidate for dry needling—especially if you’ve never heard of this therapy before. But doctors and physical therapists agree that dry needling can be effective for treating a wide range of different injuries, illnesses, and ailments. As a way to relieve pain, improve tissue healing, promote better blood circulation, and restore nervous system functioning, dry needling can do a lot for your body.
Dry needling is commonly recommended for patients experiencing one of the following health issues:
- Chronic back pain.
- Neck pain or stiffness.
- Sciatica pain.
- Sports-related injuries, like tennis elbow.
- Joint injuries or limited mobility.
Is Dry Needling Therapy Safe?
While at first glance, having a therapist stick needles in your body may seem a bit unusual, this type of therapy has been practiced successfully for a long time. Doctors and experts primarily agree that dry needling is a safe and holistic form of therapy that can effectively treat various health issues. So yes, if the concern over safety was keeping you from trying out dry needling, be sure that this is nothing to worry about. When you receive dry needling from a licensed therapist, this type of care is safe and effective.
Many first-time patients may, at first, be a bit hesitant to try dry needling over other concerns, including whether or not it could be painful. While this is a fair concern to have as a first-time patient, it is, however, a bit unfounded. Most new patients note that dry needling is an entirely painless experience from beginning to end. When the thin needles are first inserted, your muscles may twitch in response, which after the therapy, can lead to mild soreness. But for the most part, the needles are so thin that they do not cause any actual pain during the therapy. After the treatment, patients may experience sore muscles for a day or two, similar to how you’d feel after a good workout at the gym.
Conclusion – Is Dry Needling Safe?
If you find that you’re experiencing neck pain or stiffness, back pain, limited joint mobility, or even headaches or migraines, dry needling could be an effective treatment option for you. Dry needling can effectively treat a wide range of musculoskeletal injuries and ailments and can get you back to the lifestyle you love.
Using thin monofilament needles, this type of therapy activates several muscle trigger points throughout your body. When this occurs, the action spurs the body’s ability to naturally heal itself so you can find relief from pain, recover faster from an injury, and even improve the overall health of your nervous system. As a safe and noninvasive approach to care, many patients prefer this type of treatment compared to more invasive treatments such as prescription medication or major surgery. In fact, that’s why you’ll see dry needling offered at so many healthcare facilities, including physical therapy offices. Dry needling is safe, holistic, and perhaps most importantly, it’s effective.