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The Use of Dry Needling at Freedom Physical Therapy and Wellness

Dry needling, a technique often used in physical therapy, has gained notable attention and popularity as a method for treating pain and muscle dysfunction. This practice, which involves the insertion of thin, sterile needles into the skin, targets myofascial trigger points—tender knots in muscles that can contribute to pain and movement impairments. Despite its similarities to acupuncture, an ancient Chinese medicine practice, dry needling is grounded in Western medical principles and aims specifically at relieving muscle pain and improving range of motion. This article delves into the origins, methodology, benefits, and considerations of dry needling in the context of physical therapy at Freedom Physical Therapy.

Origins and Development

Dry needling’s roots can be traced back to the 20th century, evolving from the understanding of trigger points and the muscular and neuromuscular systems. It was developed based on the premise that stimulating specific points in the muscle could release tension and alleviate pain. Over the years, it has been refined and supported by research, becoming a widely accepted technique in physical therapy for managing musculoskeletal conditions.

Methodology

The practice of dry needling involves a trained physical therapist inserting a fine, sterile needle directly into a muscle. These are often hyperirritable spots within a tight band of muscle that cause pain and discomfort. The insertion of the needle aims to elicit a response from the muscle, leading to the relaxation of the muscle fibers. This process can help to reduce local and referred pain, improve flexibility, and enhance muscle function.

Benefits

Dry needling offers several potential benefits for patients experiencing musculoskeletal issues. These include:

  • Pain Reduction: By targeting trigger points, dry needling can help decrease pain levels in conditions such as neck pain, back pain, headaches, and shoulder injuries.
  • Improved Mobility: Patients often experience improved range of motion and flexibility following dry needling treatment, as muscle tension is relieved
  • Enhanced Recovery: Incorporating dry needling into a rehabilitation program can expedite the recovery process from injuries by reducing muscle tightness and improving movement patterns.
  • Adjunct to Other Therapies: Dry needling can be used alongside other physical therapy treatments, such as manual therapy and exercise, to enhance therapeutic outcomes.

Considerations and Risks

While dry needling is generally considered safe when performed by a qualified professional, there are some risks and considerations. Potential side effects may include bleeding at the needle sites, bruising, soreness, or temporary aggravation of symptoms. It’s crucial for patients to seek treatment from a certified physical therapist who has undergone specialized training in dry needling to minimize these risks.

Our Belief on Dry Needling in Our Clients’ Healing Process. 

As our society learns more about healing from pain, there is a shift away from passive treatment options such as therapeutic ultrasound, electrical stimulation, ice/heat and dry needling as the primary emphasis of treatment. Those who continue to need the same types of treatments week after week or month after month need to consider their active participation in a treatment program. The goal of PT should be patient independence, not reliance on passive techniques such as dry needling. Our method of treatment at Freedom Physical Therapy seeks to use dry needling solely as an adjunct treatment and not as the primary aspect in our plan of care for our clients. 

Conclusion

Dry needling is a valuable tool in the arsenal of physical therapy treatments for musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. By directly addressing muscle tension and trigger points, it offers a pathway to relief for many patients struggling with pain and limited mobility. As with any medical treatment, it’s essential for individuals to consult with healthcare professionals or our team at Freedom PT to determine if dry needling is appropriate for their specific condition. With ongoing research and clinical practice, the effectiveness and application of dry needling continue to evolve, offering hope and healing to those affected by musculoskeletal issues.

If you are interested in learning more about dry needling and its use in our treatment approach, please contact us and we would love to discuss if your situation would be appropriate for dry needling. 

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AUTHOR

Dr. John DeVries

Freedom Physical Therapy and Wellness

We help those frustrated with their current physical status get back to doing the things they enjoy.
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