What is Dry Needling
Dry Needling in Stamford, CT
Dry needling is an invasive technique used by healthcare providers like doctors of physical therapy to target neural, muscular, and connective tissues in order to reduce pain, restore range of motion, and increase function. This is different from “wet” needling, which involves injecting a substance into tissue via insertion of a hollow bore needle. Getting a vaccine, corticosteroid injection, or botox are all forms of “wet” needles. With dry needling, nothing is injected and the needle itself is the stimulus!
How Is This Different From Acupuncture?
Dry needling and acupuncture have quite a few similarities! The best way to describe the difference is that acupuncture uses a traditional Chinese medicine theoretical framework to determine treatment parameters and placement, whereas dry needling uses western musculoskeletal frameworks of medicine to determine treatment. The use of supplemental e-stim is also found more often in dry needling, as the data seems to be quite promising. In terms of needle placement, there are often overlapping points between dry needling and acupuncture. In simple terms, the “what” between acupuncture and dry needling is fairly similar, although the “why” to explain where to place the needles and why it can be effective is often different, as traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture talk more about meridians and the idea of “chi” while dry needling bases it’s rationale on our current knowledge of the musculoskeletal system.
What does Dry Needling Do?
Although it may seem like witchcraft, the current body of data supports the use of dry needling for multiple indications! My preference is with the use of e-stim, however most forms of DN are still effective. The most substantial evidence exists for the use of dry needling to temporarily reduce pain, increase blood flow, improve muscle recruitment and output, change resting muscle tone, combat muscle atrophy, and even sharpen somatosensory maps (getting a sharper picture of sensory data in the brain).
What Can Be Treated With Dry Needling?
Most musculoskeletal pain syndromes like chronic pain in the low back, shoulder, neck, knee, elbow, and even headaches can all improve with dry needling! I often use it with someone who is coming in with stiff, hypertonic, and often painful muscle contraction surrounding a joint due to injury, overuse, or even neglect! Dry needling allows us to get the pain reduction, blood flow, and relaxation needed to start loading irritated tissue again so that we can restore proper function.