Dry needling is a form of modern treatment for the easing of muscular pain. It makes the use of filiform needles that do not inject fluid into the body. Hence the term ‘dry’. These needles are short, fine, and made of stainless steel.
In dry needling, the needles are normally placed in the trigger points of muscle or tissue. Trigger points are those points where muscle fiber has contracted into a tight band that causes pain, restricts movement, or cause localized tenderness. The number of needles inserted can depend on the area of the pain and how widespread it is. In most treatments, anywhere between 5 and 20 needles will be inserted and left in place for a few minutes after which they are removed. Dry needling has a lot of similarities to acupuncture, a part of traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture treats the whole body to restore balance in the body, while dry needling, a part of Western medicine, targets specific areas to bring relief to them.
Dry needling can be painful, with the location of any muscular injury affecting the amount of pain that a person would experience. As the needles are inserted through the skin this can cause a slight twitch or contraction of the muscle, that can then create the pain. Twitches in muscles are considered by the practitioners of dry needling a good sign that indicates that the trigger point has been correctly hit. The area being treated can show signs of soreness for a day or two after the treatment.
Dry needling is considered as a treatment that is given in addition to other medication and therapy and is never a solution by itself for the treatment of muscular injuries. It is not known how this form of treatment works, but the theory is that it makes the nervous system focus on the pain caused by the needle puncture, and away from the pain caused by the injury. It is also said that the painful stimulus provided by the needling causes the body to release endorphins and these chemicals alleviate pain.
The main aim of dry needling is to reduce pain, restore muscular function, and aid movement while inactivating the trigger points. It is widely used for back, hip, heel, neck, and shoulder pain. This treatment is not yet an approved form of treatment that has been backed by research and is thus not part of reimbursement allowed by insurance companies. This technique is practiced largely by therapists who treat sports injuries, and there is no extensive training needed for it, nor is there any regulatory body that oversees this form of treatment. It is best to seek this treatment from people who have postgraduate health care education.
Dry needling can provide relief from stiffness and muscular pain while easing the trigger points so that the range of motion of the affected muscle and its flexibility is improved. Whether it is more effective than stretching that most physical therapists advise for muscle injuries is something that research into this procedure has yet to conclude.
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