What is Dry Needling? – Osteopath Dr Jess Watson explains
Dry needling is a treatment that uses fine, single-use needles, the same as those used in acupuncture. Your osteopath will use dry needling in conjunction to other osteopathic techniques when they see fit. Commonly, dry needling is used to deactivate and help loosen tightened spots within the muscle, known as ‘trigger points’. Dry needling is also used to improve nerve conduction, blood supply, the strength of tendons and ligaments, and to stimulate reflex mechanisms within the area.
The overall goal of dry needling is to reduce muscle pain and spasm, increase range of motion of the surrounding joints, and provide an overall increase in function of the body.
When would dry needling be beneficial?
Dry needling can be used for a number of conditions, and will normally make up a small part of your osteopathic treatment. It is commonly used in conjunction with other techniques for the following conditions:
· Tennis/golfers elbow
· Back and neck pain
· RSI conditions
· Joint sprains
· Piriformis syndrome
· Rotator cuff injuries
· Acute sporting injuries
· Chronic pain conditions
Is dry needling painful?
As pain is a subjective experience, no patient’s experience with dry needling is the same. However, as the needle used is so fine most patients do not feel the needle pierce the skin.
Most commonly once the needle has entered the muscle, a small twitch or cramping sensation can be felt. This feeling normally subsides, and can be replaced with a small ache, slight numbness or a heaviness. When these things are felt it is considered a good sign, as it indicates that the correct point has been found, and your muscle will soon relax.
Will I feel sore after dry needling?
Most patients respond very well to this form of treatment, however, similarly to all manual therapy techniques, some soreness may occur, but is typically resolved 24-48 hours post treatment.
Is dry needling the same as acupuncture?
No. While the same needles are used, the objectives of the treatments are different. Dry needling, as discussed above, is most commonly utilised to treat tight areas of muscles, known as ‘trigger points’. Acupuncture, when put simply, focuses on inner body energy (Qi), and the needles are placed in very specific points to help facilitate and improve the Qi, allowing the body to properly heal.
Acupuncture is a separate degree at university, that is taught in combination with Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Dry needling is an adjunctive course, that can be completed practitioners who hold specific degrees in allied health such as osteopathy, chiropractic or physiotherapy.
Osteopaths that utilise dry needling are, therefore, not acupuncturists unless they also hold a degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, or a masters of Acupuncture.
If you think you could benefit from dry needling, you can find me at the Alexandra Hills clinic on the following days:
Monday: 9am – 5pm Wednesday: 9am- 12:30pm Thursday: 9am – 7pm