Pain relief for muscle pain and movement impairments By Alison Swanson, PT and Danielle Larsson Boundary Community Hospital
Do you suffer from myofascial pain such as aching/stiffness, muscle tension/knots/spasms, tendinitis, decreased range of motion, spinal problems, or repetitive motion disorders? Are you looking to resolve the problem instead of masking the pain with medication? If this describes you, you may be interested in dry needling.
Q: What is dry needling?
A: Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a very thin needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points (a tight band of muscle within a larger muscle group), muscular and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments.
Q: How is it different from acupuncture?
A: Acupuncture uses the meridian system or acupoints to determine where the needle is placed; dry needling uses touch/palpation skills to find trigger points to determine where the needle is placed.
Q: Is it painful?
A: It can be uncomfortable for a short period of time during the procedure. Typically, it lasts about 10 seconds or less. This discomfort is seen as a good sign, meaning that the placement of the needle is in a dysfunctional area.
Q: What are the benefits of dry needling?
A: Dry needling can help abnormal muscle activation, improve local circulation in tissues and nearby joints, improve collagen production, relieve remote pain, may help with tendinopathy, increase endogenous opiates (your body’s naturally occurring pain relievers), has anti-inflammatory effects, may decrease sensitivity to pain (peripheral and central sensitization), improve range of motion, and improve strength.
Q: Who could benefit from it?
A: Anyone can benefit from it depending on if they have an appropriate diagnosis. There are some medical conditions where dry needling should not be used, such as varicose veins, pregnancy, or recent surgery, etc. The therapist can help determine this.
Q: How do you get an appointment for it? Do you need a referral?
A: You would need a referral for physical therapy from your doctor. If you or your doctor want or need dry needling done specifically, let the rehab scheduler at Boundary Community Hospital know at the time of scheduling, so you are set up with the correct therapist. It will still be up to the therapist to determine if dry needling is the appropriate treatment.
Q: How long is a typical treatment session?
A: Each individual will be different depending on the problems they are experiencing. Dry needling works in conjunction with physical therapy; someone can expect to attend a normal 45-minute session of physical therapy with needling taking up part of that time. Dry needling should be a temporary treatment and will probably not be included in every treatment session. There is no set number of treatments that need to be performed; it will depend on how someone responds to the needling and the benefit that is noted.
Q: Is there recovery time?
A: There may be some soreness in the area that was treated. This may last 24 hours but usually does not last longer than that.
Q: How long will the effects last?
A: The goal is for the effect to be long-lasting. Depending on someone’s posture, mobility, strength, and movement pattern, this could lead to a return of the trigger point or a new one evolving.
To schedule an appointment, call Boundary Community Hospital’s Rehab Department at 208.267.3141 ext. 4276.