Dry needling is a very safe and effective treatment that we offer in our clinic. It is used to restore proper muscle balance, relieve restrictions in the fascia and nervous system, treat inflammation, and alleviate pain. But this procedure tends to strike fear in the hearts of the bravest, strongest women we know (sorry fellas, when it comes to pain tolerance you don’t hold a candle to your female counterparts).
So we have taken time to write this post to address some concerns about dry needling you may have.
First, let’s talk about the benefits of dry needling.
Dry Needling was developed primarily to treat soft tissue pain related to inflammation, sensitized nerves, scar tissue formation, fascial adhesions, alleviate biomechanical imbalances, and decreased circulation (blood and lymphatic).
The benefits don’t stop there. Dry needling helps the body to create systemic homeostasis; also known as your body’s ability to adapt to its external environment. It does so by assisting in the balance of the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest & digest) nervous system. In a world where we are constantly on high alert trying to meet deadlines, commuting to and from work and being pulled in every which direction, we could all use some homeostasis.
“The benefits of dry needling greatly outweigh the risks. For that reason we provide this service in our office…”
Dry needling works by creating a small lesion in the muscle. This small lesion stimulates a remodeling process in the following ways.
- Reduces muscle and tissue tension
- Restores circulation and thus reduces inflammation
- Stimulates a self-healing response in the damaged tissues
A lot of you may be wondering: “is dry needling painful?”
Dry needling is a fairly pain-free procedure. We strive to make the procedure as painless as possible. This procedure is performed using a very fine filament needle that is both solid and flexible. This allows for the needle to be pushed through the skin versus cutting the skin. This type of needle is also what is used in Acupuncture, however we are NOT performing Acupuncture. (Acupuncture is an amazing methodology based on Chinese medicine that involves balancing energy through the meridian systems of the body along with dietary and herbal recommendations.) More often than not, our patients are surprised by how little they actually feel the needle being inserted, and were more uncomfortable with the thought of the procedure than the procedure itself. Many describe the sensation of dry needling as more of a dull, achy pressure than actual pain. That being said discomfort does occur when:
- We hit a C-fiber. A C-fiber is a very small pain sensing nerve that does not like to be touched by needles. When this happens, many people experience a mild to moderate stinging sensation. We would say less intense than that of a bee sting, but we will let you decide. When this happens, we ALWAYS instruct you to let us know so we can remove the needle and re-insert a needle into another close by area. This stinging sensation will not cause permanent damage and will dissipate within seconds of removal.
- A twitch response is stimulated. This occurs when the needle comes in contact with a tight, shortened muscle. This response is normal and is only felt momentarily – think involuntary, isolated muscle twitch. Our patients often admit the twitch is not painful, it “just feels weird”.
Another concern we would like to address is: “I could get a pneumothorax?”
Pneumothorax is a scary word for those of you who know what it is. A pneumothorax is the medical term for a collapsed lung. The risk of pneumothorax is very low, ranging from 0-10% risk with dry needling. For this reason we have undergone extensive training with the Institute of Dry Needling, have a very in depth understanding of human anatomy, and take serious precautions to prevent this kind of event from ever happening. If this were to occur, it may likely only require a chest x-ray and no further treatment. The symptoms of shortness of breath may last for several days to weeks. A more severe lung puncture can require hospitalization and re-inflation of the lung. This is a very rare complication and in skilled hands should not be a concern.
The benefits of dry needling greatly outweigh the risks. For that reason we provide this service in our office and will often recommend it as a treatment for neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction. If you would like to ask us more questions about this procedure, please do so here! We would love to help you decide if this is the right treatment option for you. If this does not sound like a treatment you are comfortable with, that is more than OK. We have many other tools in our belts to help you on your path to healing. We provide several manual muscle therapies, cupping, Graston, rapid release technique, microcurrent treatments, taping, and of course Chiropractic manipulations.