What is dry needling?
Dry needling is a technique where fine needles are inserted into a muscle or muscle tendon. Dry needling can be used to tap into a dysfunctional muscle. For example, if you have knee pain, we can dry needle around the knee to improve tissue mobility and healing surrounding the region. Needling into dysfunctional areas can stimulate bone growth, draw blood to the affected region, and decrease pain surrounding your dysfunctional area.
We can also use dry needling to tap into our nervous system. Most people live in a fight-or-flight response based on daily stressorsóneedling can help this. We know our needling techniques can improve your rest-and-digest functions by improving the parasympathetic nerve function. We can also improve vagus nerve tone. The vagus nerve has been studied more recently and has been shown to have large influences on our mood (including depression and anxiety), improving inflammation, and even our cardiovascular function! Yes, you heard correctly, dry needling can help improve cardiovascular function such as reducing high blood pressure, optimizing blood perfusion, and reducing instances of headaches.
You want to stick needles into an area that hurts?
Needles inserted are about a tenth of the size of needles used to draw blood. The needles being inserted are so thin you can wrap them around your finger. The needles generally do not cause pain as they are being inserted. The largest benefit of dry needling is improved blood flow and increased healing potential of a dysfunctional area.
How is this different than acupuncture?
As physical therapists, we do not cover the same skill set that acupuncturists study. Although we use relatively the same sized needles, acupuncture and dry needling are vastly different. Location of needle placement for dry needling is directly into the affected region of pain or a referral site of the pain. Acupuncture is a practice based in traditional Chinese medicine which focuses on needle placement to improve the flow of energy throughout the body along meridians.
What is your training for this?
All our therapists have gone through extensive training to perform the dry needling techniques we provide at our clinic. Aside from the 50 hours of rigorous dry needling education the state of Florida requires, each of our therapists has studied anatomy extensively including cadaver dissection. We are therapists who are trained to keep you as safe as possible.
How long do I have to participate before noticing an improvement?
It depends. Typically, patients will report improvement in symptoms after the first treatment. Patients who have had pain longer may require more treatments. On average, patients who participate in dry needling 6-8 visits should notice resolution of symptoms. Patients will typically participate in dry needling 2x/week with at least 48 hours between dry needling appointments.
How will I feel afterwards?
Immediately after a dry needling visit, you may feel sleepy or relaxed. You will likely feel moderate soreness immediately after dry needling or within 24 hours of a treatment. The soreness is no different than muscle soreness and should fade within 48 hours of a dry needling treatment. Occasionally, there can be bruising associated with dry needling although this is rare. Some patients will report immediate improvement in symptoms and others will report improvement within 1-2 days after dry needling.
How are the treatments set up?
Visits last for one hour. Needles are placed and left in for about 45 minutes. Therapists will educate before placing the needles. If it is appropriate for you, therapists will place electric stimulation through the needles to improve your tolerance to the treatment and overall benefit. Your therapist will occasionally rotate the needles throughout the treatment to improve overall benefit.