Dry Needling

Treating Myofacial Trigger Points
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DRY NEEDLING

Dry needling is a technique used to treat myofascial trigger points and tender points within your muscles, tendons or ligaments. Recent evidence has shown that trigger points are localized areas of hyperactive muscle or tissue that have numerous inflammatory and pain producing chemicals causing local tightness of the muscle.  This is often accompanied by pain and dysfunction of the muscle and can contribute to irritation of the nerve endings, as well as decrease normal movement and function of the surrounding joints 

 Dry needling to trigger points has been shown to decrease or completely reduce the irritating chemicals found in an active trigger point.  This can immediately improve range of motion, decrease pain and improve function. Patients often feel a significant improvement in symptoms following this treatment.  Trigger point dry needling can often expedite the return to normal functional activities. 

 The dry needling procedure involves placing a very thin, solid filament (not hollow) directly into a trigger point.  This office uses sterile, disposable needles and maintains a clean safe environment for this treatment. The number of needles used during any individual visit and the number of visits needed depends on several factors that differ from patient to patient. It is also important to note that dry needling is not acupuncture and is a completely different treatment based on its own methodology. 

What are the Risks of Dry Needling

While you can be confident that Dry Needling is very safe,  there are some risks involved. Any procedure intended to help may have side effects or complications.  While the chances of experiencing complications are unlikely, it is important to be informed about them. Most of these complications are very minor and self-limiting and resolve quickly.  This includes but is not limited to local bruising, mild soreness or pain during treatment or lasting for a day or two, lightheadedness or dizziness, and small amounts of bleeding at the insertion site (usually stops within seconds).  

More serious complications, while very rare, include fainting, persistent bleeding, and infection. The most serious complication is a pneumothorax or accidental puncture of the lung (if needling near the lungs). If this were to occur, it may or may not require a chest x-ray and no further treatment as it can resolve on its own.  More severe punctures may require further medical intervention. The symptoms of pain and shortness of breath may last for several days. This is a very rare complication (less than .04%) and should not be a concern when working with a qualified professional. If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact your Physical Therapist or primary care provider.  If you believe it to be an emergency, please go directly to an emergency room. 

Most patients do not feel the needle when it is inserted, though you may feel a subtle muscle cramp around the needle tip. Typically, pain levels during the treatment are also low but do vary from patient to patient. Because the needle is very thin, there is usually little to no bleeding during dry needling.