Dry Needling is a Useful Functional Medicine Technique

Living with chronic pain is no way to live life. The good news is that dry needling is an effective treatment for it. A 2012 study found that dry needling was able to relieve back and neck pain significantly. Other studies have shown that it can relieve pain in other areas of the body.

ACN Wellness specializes in dry needling. Dr. Le and his staff deeply believe in the therapeutic effects of dry needling when it comes to pain relief. ACN has been performing this treatment for many years often in addition to other functional and integrative medicine treatments.

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What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling, also known as trigger point dry needling and intramuscular stimulation, is a treatment technique used by various healthcare practitioners, including physical therapists, physicians, and chiropractors, among others.

Dry Needling is an effective and popular treatment for chronic pain, which is a very common problem among adults of all ages. Dry needling is used to relieve pain caused by trigger points, which are painful knots of muscle that develop from overuse, lack of use, or trauma.

Trigger points are usually sore when pressed, and often cause pain in other areas of the body. For example, a collection of taut muscles — a trigger point — in the upper back can cause pain to radiate to the head, neck, and shoulders. As such, you may experience pain in a completely different part of the body when you have a faulty muscle.

The goal of dry needling is to contact and relax knotted muscles. A hair-thin needle is inserted into the muscle membrane (fascia) to create a twitch response that depolarizes the tissue. During dry needling treatment, needles are slowly inserted into tight muscles, gently manipulated, and removed after a short period of time.

Very thin needles are inserted into the body at specific places on the body. Where the needles are placed is important, as it is what can stimulate the flow of energy  and blood flow throughout the body leading to health and well-being and help to promote healing to that affected area.

A needle inserted near the area of overstrained muscle or tendon will increase the flow of energy and blood to that area, which reduces pain and accelerates the healing process. A full assessment of where the pain resides in a patient and based on how the body moves and responds, Dr. Le is able to find the affected area that will benefit the most from dry needling.

Conditions Dry Needling Can Help

Dry Needling doesn’t treat medical conditions, but it can make dealing with the symptoms easier. Many functional medicine doctors, such as Dr. Le, use dry needling in addition to other treatments to resolve illnesses and diseases. Some of the conditions dry needling can help are:

  • Post Surgical care
  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck Pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Respiratory Disorders
  • Tight Muscles
  • Joint Pain

To know if Dry needling is right for you, contact ACN Wellness for a consultation.

Is Dry Needling Safe?

Like many treatments, patients often wonder if dry needling is safe. The truth is, dry needling is a very safe treatment. It does not involve a lot of risks – especially when performed by an experienced provider – and can be used to treat patients of all ages. The needles used for dry needling are sterilized and delicately placed in precise positions. The treatment isn’t intense, painful, or risky. In fact, it is performed right in your provider’s office, and you can go about your day as soon as the treatment is complete.

Below are some side effects of dry needling that you should be aware of. Keep in mind that most side effects are temporary and alleviate on their own within a few hours to days.

  • Pain and soreness – For the first couple of days following dry needling, some patients experience pain or soreness in the treated area. This can easily be remediated with over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Bruising or bleeding – Bruising can happen in the treated area. It typically goes away within a few days. If you are on blood thinners, you may experience some minor bleeding, although this is rare. Make sure to talk to your provider ahead of time if you are on blood thinners or have a condition that complicates your ability to stop bleeding.
  • Skin irritation – Due to the needles used for dry needling, you may find your skin irritated immediately following treatment. Taking an antihistamine and keeping the area clean and dry is enough to alleviate the issue within a few days.

If you are mired by chronic pain, talk to a doctor or physical therapist about whether trigger points may be to blame – and whether dry needling may be an effective treatment for it.

The needles used are extremely safe, because they are sterile, individually packaged, and disposable. As a licensed acupuncturist I have had extensive training in anatomy so as to avoid inserting a needle in a place that can cause damage. This clinic only uses sterile, single-use, disposable needles.

Is Dry Needling Painful or does it Hurt?

I am dedicated to making your acupuncture treatment as comfortable as it is effective. Most people barely feel a thing when needles are inserted. Some people feel a slight pinch, similar to a mosquito or gnat bite.

Most patients find the treatments not painful and very well tolerated.

What to Expect at Your First Appointment

During your first office visit, we spend a lot of time getting a complete picture of your health and lifestyle. I examine the condition of your tongue (is it cracked, coated, excessively pink? purple? etc.), and check your pulse on both wrists (the quality of your pulse gives information about possible imbalances). I’ll also ask questions about your emotional state and specific symptoms you may have. In addition to a full body exam to find where any pain resides and how the body moves to best assess where treatment is necessary.

This is done because unlike Western medicine, TCM treats the whole person instead of focusing on the symptoms of your condition. The first visit (with diagnosis) lasts approximately an hour including an adjustment or dry needling treatment. Your subsequent visits will be shorter – usually about fifteen minutes. Well make a brief review of your progress followed by an acupuncture treatment.

The initial appointment may take up to 60 minutes. This is when you will identify where you’re experiencing pain or discomfort. The practitioner may want to examine your tongue, the color of your face, and the strength and rhythm of your pulse.

Treatment is usually performed once or twice a week. The number of treatments you will receive depends on the condition and desired results. Most patients achieve maximum benefits after six to eight treatments.

Following the needling, the practitioner may apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles. This will intensify the results.

Usually, the needles remain in place for a few minutes until they are removed. Most people are not able to feel the needles being removed.

Most pry atients feel more relaxed after treatment, but not everyone does, so keep that in mind when you experience it the first time.

Does Acupuncture Work?

Many studies have been performed to show the efficacy of acupuncture. However, it remains unclear how it works. Some researchers believe there’s a balancing of vital energy that occurs with the needling, while others believe the needles inserted into the body leads to a neurological effect. Even though acupuncture may be controversial among Western medical doctors and scientists, what remains clear is that many people have claimed that it helps them.

The only way to truly know if acupuncture will work for you is to experience it. Remember, it may take many sessions because you see the effects of it so be patient and allow your acupuncturist guide you through the treatment.

Risks of Dry Needling

The risks of dry needling are relatively low. Patients may feel some soreness, minor bleeding, or bruising at insertion sites. Infection is no longer an issue as practitioners are required to use different needles every time.

How Many Treatments will I Need?

The number of treatments will depend on the nature of the complaint, its severity, and how long it has been present. Typically dry needling treatments are given once a week. If the condition is acute and painful, treatments may be needed 2-3 times per week until the condition starts to come under control. On average, a typical course of treatment requires 10-12 treatments over 2-4 months. The exact duration of treatment depends on the condition, your basic level of health, and how well you respond to acupuncture.

Integrative and Western medicine complement each other and can be integrated to offer optimal health care. In cases where medical circumstances can be dealt with more effectively by Western medicine, I will recommend that you contact a physician.