physical therapist treat painDry needling has become a sought-after and trusted way to help release some types of pain to augment other physical therapy modalities and exercises. During a dry needling session, a trained therapist uses the same type of very small needle used by acupuncture technologists. The therapist identifies an area where pain is originating, known as a trigger point and often referred to by patients as a knot. When the needle is gently inserted in this area, the stimulation helps the muscle regain its original length and elasticity and releases the associated pain. Dry needling can help with several different types, including these five pain disorders you may be suffering.

1. Sciatica

Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve that runs from your back through your legs is impacted. Several conditions may result in sciatica, including the narrowing of the spine caused by lumbar stenosis and the tightened muscles caused by piriformis syndrome. A therapist can use dry needling to identify the impacted point and insert needles around the areas of narrowing or trigger points. The muscles causing the narrowed spacing or tightened muscles can be released with the air of these dry needles, greatly reducing the resulting pain.

2. Neck Pain

When a patient feels stress, they often hold their head and neck rigidly, which can result in the formation of muscle knots or highly sensitive trigger points. Neck pain can radiate into the head, down the back, and throughout upper extremities. In many cases, these knots can be seen and palpated easily. Using one or several needles, a therapist can target the area where the patient has carried their stress and neck pain has resulted. After dry needling, the trigger points are released or relaxed and the resulting pain will fade away.

3. Headaches and Migraines

Some headaches and migraines result from areas of the body that are overstimulated, resulting in trigger points becoming overly sensitive, such as the base of the skull, neck region or top of the shoulders. The sensitive zones could be a result of tightening due to stress or postural issues that lead to the formation of knots. Then, the pressure from those regions radiates into the skull and causes tremendously painful headaches. Dry needling sessions can help to release those areas where the pain originates, while parallel therapy can reteach correct posture and stress release techniques so the problem doesn’t recur.

4. Shoulder Pain

When a patient seeks physical therapy outside of an acute injury or scheduled surgery, one area often highlighted as a concern is the region at the top of the shoulders. This area is prone to pain because of how patients wear backpacks and purses, react to stressful situations, carry children and arrange their posture. Pain from this region often travels elsewhere in the body by radiating through nerves. Dry needling can help release this pain.

5. Joint Pain

Joints can become inflamed through many repetitive motion activities as well as acute injuries. A patient may experience painful zones in any joint, especially shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. Dry needling in the regions surrounding those joints can help the muscles relax after overuse or injury and regain their normal size and elasticity. This leads to the release of pain and resumption of normal activities.

Dry needling is a newer modality offered by physical therapists but based on the same ageless principles as acupuncture. When administered by a trained professional and in conjunction with other therapies, dry needling can lead to a high percentage of pain disorders having a successful resolution. If you’re interested in dry needling contact the therapists at Ferrell-Whited to request an appointment.