What Is Dry Needling Therapy

One of the functional – integrative medicine approaches we offer at ACN Wellness is dry needling therapy. If you’ve heard about it recently, that’s because it’s increasing in popularity because of how effective it’s been in treating many conditions.

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Dry Needling Therapy: Is It for You?

Dry needling therapy consists of using a thin monofilament needle to penetrate the skin in specific areas that will trigger certain muscles. This relieves pain and can improve range of motion.

Where the needle penetrates is called a trigger point. This trigger point will ease knots in the muscles, also referred to as myofascial trigger points. Muscle fibers can often become tight creating nodules and this can compress capillaries and nerves. This prevents muscles from moving freely and can cause pain and discomfort.

When the monofilament needle goes into the tightened muscle nodules (knots), it can release them. This boosts blood flow to the area, which reduces pain and inflammation for better range of motion.

Dry needling therapy is not a treatment in itself because it does not resolve the underlying problem that causes pain. This therapy is simply a way to reduce pain while another treatment is in the process of curing the condition.

What Causes Myofascial Trigger Points

People suffer from myofascial trigger points because of another issue in the body.

  • Injury causes the muscles to tense up to protect the body from further damage.
  • Unexpected movements can cause the muscle to tense up because of the threat of an injury.
  • Quick movements can also trigger a myofascial trigger point.
  • Overuse or sustained use of muscles.
  • Nerve condition that causes the muscle to tighten to protect it.
  • Stress, illness, and nutritional deficiencies can make muscles tense up and cause knots.
  • Metabolic and endocrine conditions can also lead to myofascial trigger points.

The causes of myofascial trigger points are often what needs to be treated, but could take a while before that is resolved. This is why people often elect to have dry needling therapy as they are healing or curing their condition.

How Does Dry Needling Work?

Dry Needling can be performed wherever there are muscles that can be penetrated with the needle. This can include:

  • Shoulder
  • Neck
  • Heel
  • Hip
  • Back

Other areas of the body may be too sensitive to be able to perform this therapy, but your functional medicine doctor such as Dr. Le at ACN Wellness can tell you more during a consultation.

How Dry Needling Differs from Acupuncture

Many people confuse dry needling with acupuncture. The only similarity between them is that they use a needle to perform the therapy. Training to do dry needling is much different than acupuncture because dry needling is a Western type of medicine, while acupuncture is an Eastern medicine. Dry needling is different from acupuncture because:

Pain patterns are evaluated
Posture is considered
Movement impairments are noted
Function and orthopedic tests are performed

Acupuncture focuses on the flow of energy (Qi) by triggering specific points on the body. These trigger points restore balance to the body, which can treat medical conditions. Dry needling does not treat medical conditions, but rather decreases pain and improves functioning caused by them.

What to Expect When Receiving Dry Needling Therapy

We often hear from patients, “Does dry needling hurt?” Most people do not feel pain, but rather, they feel discomfort for a second or two after the needle is inserted and removed. Patients describe it as a mild stinging sensation.

The muscle may twitch when the needle is inserted into it. This is not a cause for concern, but the natural consequence of releasing the tense muscle.

Treatment time depends on the number of myofascial trigger points in the area being treated. Needles may be placed superficially or deeply for longer or shorter periods of time depending on the type of pain being experienced. Superficial needling for short periods of time is for patients with minimal pain, while deep needling for long periods of time is for those who suffer from more severe pain.

Patients often feel relief within 24 hours of their session, but will need at least a few sessions before experiencing long-term results. Treatment can be given once every two or three weeks.

Conditions Dry Needling Therapy Helps

Since dry needling therapy isn’t a treatment for a condition, but rather a treatment for pain and limited mobility, we like to say that the following can be helped with this therapy.

  • Tendonitis
  • Overuse Injuries
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Chronic Pain Syndrome
  • Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Groin and Hamstring Strains
  • Headaches and Whiplash
  • Hip Pain
  • Knee Pain
  • IT Band Syndrome
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Neck Pain
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Sciatic Pain
  • Night Cramps
  • Post-Herpetic Neuralgia
  • Disc Problems
  • Joint Problems
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Migraines
  • Tennis or Golfer’s Elbow
  • TMJ
  • Other musculoskeletal conditions

Usually, a condition that causes pain or discomfort and limits range of motion can be helped with dry needling therapy. To know for sure, contact a functional or integrative medicine doctor, such as Dr. Le to see if you could benefit from it.

Why Is NOT a Candidate for Dry Needling Therapy

Dry needling therapy is minimally invasive, so most people are candidates for it. The only people who should not have this therapy are:

  • Pregnant
  • Those who don’t understand it.
  • People who have a phobia of needles.

It’s important to speak to a certified and experienced dry needling therapist when considering this form of treatment to decide if it’s right for you.

Contact ACN Wellness for Dry Needling Therapy

Does dry needling therapy seem like an option for you? Contact ACN Wellness at 703-729-5600 for a consultation. We have a conveniently located functional medical office in Vienna, Virginia.

We look forward to helping you relieve pain and improve mobility with dry needling therapy.