Dry needling has become more commonplace in the physical therapy field within the last couple of years for the treatment of various musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions. The type of dry needling used in PT and acupuncture are often confused, however there are differences that separate these two treatment techniques. Acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine and the concept of meridians, or energy flow, and practitioners often needle in sites away from the area of complaint. On the other hand, dry needling used in PT is based on the musculoskeletal system, with needling being performed in the area of pain and any contributing areas.
Dry needling can help treat pain through a number of ways. If there is an active inflammatory process in the area that is contributing to your pain, needling can help reduce this by stimulating an immune system response and by helping to increase blood flow to the area. Dry needling is also effective at helping to reduce muscular tightness, also known as increased tone. This reduction in tone can help to improve joint range of motion, muscular flexibility, and sensations of stiffness.
Dry needling is a safe and mostly pain free treatment technique. The needles that I use are much smaller than what are used to inject vaccinations/medications or withdraw blood in physicians’ offices and cause much less discomfort. The most common side effect from needling is mild muscular soreness, but as Crossfitters I’m sure you are very used to that! If any soreness happens from needling it can be reduced by gentle active exercise of the area afterwards.
At Crossfit Milford I often use dry needling when treating back and neck pain, rotator cuff injuries, knee osteoarthritis, Achilles tendon injuries, and many other conditions. If you have any questions about how I use dry needling as a treatment technique or are wondering if you would benefit from dry needling, email me at DrRyan@proletept.com or talk to me when you see me in the gym!