Who is Dry Needling Right For?

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Do you struggle with frequent muscle pain? Can you feel that pain deeply to your bone, especially in the hips, heels, and shoulders? Dry needling may be the thing for you!

Combined with physical therapy, dry needling is great for relieving tension in trigger points and can kick start muscle tissue recovery. It’s also great for myofascial release, which occurs in the tough tissue that holds the muscles and bones. 

If you’ve been experiencing deep muscle pain that doesn’t seem to go away, our physical therapy practice in Westfield, NJ can help!

What is dry needling?

You may have heard dry needling called “trigger point dry needling” or ”myofascial trigger point dry needling” before. The technical term comes from “myo” meaning muscles and “fascia” meaning the tissue that connects the muscle.  It’s typically performed by chiropractors, medical doctors, acupuncturists, and physical therapists. Intramuscular Manual Therapy (IMT)  is another term for dry needling used specifically by physical therapists.

Because of the strain of everyday repetitive movement, it’s easy to develop trigger points, which are adhesions or nodules within the fascia or connective tissue of the muscles. These trigger points can be found anywhere in the body within taut bands of muscle. They are commonly found in the back, neck, and shoulders, causing pain and discomfort. As a result, movement becomes painful and postural pain may develop even while sitting stationary. 

Many people turn to dry needling to find acute and chronic pain relief. Using a thin monofilament needle, the skin is penetrated to stimulate neural, muscular, and connective tissues. No medication or injection is used. The needles will remain there for a short time and they may be pulled in and out gently in a technique known as “fanning” or “coning” to stimulate the area repeatedly. 

The needles can be placed just below the surface, or a little bit deeper depending on the pain you’re experiencing. In addition, electric stimulation can be applied to the needles — a technique known as electrical dry needling. Length of treatment time can also vary per person

Dry needling can only be done in the state of New Jersey by a certified professional and Doctor of Physical Therapy. It’s a highly specific treatment that requires extensive training and experience!

The benefits of dry needling

When paired with movement-based physical therapy, dry needling can help:

  • Restore muscle activation and improve soft tissue function
  • Decrease nerve sensitivity
  • Increase flexibility and range of motion
  • Encourage cellular growth at injury sites
  • Reduce trigger point pain, muscle tension, and inflammation
  • Decrease adhesions and scar tissue formation 
  • Improve blood circulation and the circulation of lymph fluids
  • Treat myofascial pain
  • Target neural, muscular and connective tissues
  • Improve neuromuscular pain and movement deficits

The biggest benefit patients experience following their dry needling treatments is the relief of muscle tightness and myofascial pain, sometimes even immediately. Poor posture, [link to how to improve posture blog], physically-strenuous jobs, and daily routines, as well as the aging process are all contributing factors that can lead to muscle and myofascial restriction.  

If left untreated, these tissue restrictions can decrease range of motion, cause frequent headaches, and create other musculoskeletal issues. Dry needling can effectively treat and prevent pain and limited range of movement, in the right situations!

How it works with physical therapy

When you visit our physical therapy practice in Westfield, NJ, we’ll incorporate dry needling into your larger physical therapy treatment plan. We’ll use it to help treat: 

  • Migraines and headaches
  • TMJ and jaw tension
  • Whiplash and neck injuries
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Spine and back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Nerve pain
  • And more!

Dry needling is most effective when used with other movement-based therapies, which is why we include it with your overall physical therapy plan.

Are there any side effects?

Before performing dry needling in our session, we’ll thoroughly evaluate your needs and health to make sure dry needling is right for you and to become aware of any concerns you may have. 

Most side effects are minor. Bruising and bleeding around injection sites or temporary soreness are common. You may also notice lightheadedness or a temporary increase in the area’s pain, which can be relieved with gentle stretching. 

How long it takes to see results

Relief is usually felt after a few sessions. It will depend largely on the amount of pain, where the pain is located, and the severity of muscular tension. However, there are plenty of patients that feel relief after their first one or two sessions!

Is dry needling right for you?

Before performing dry needling in our session, we’ll thoroughly evaluate your needs and health to make sure dry needling is right for you and to become aware of any concerns you may have. 

If you are pregnant or afraid of needles, we ask that you do not try dry needling! Your safety, health, and wellbeing are important to us and we continue to uphold the standard of care we have for all of our patients. If you have concerns with your eligibility, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

If you’re interested in dry needling, schedule a physical therapy consultation here!