Dry needling is a common practice in sports and physical therapy to increase mobility and relieve pain caused by myofascial trigger points. However, patients seeking this pain-relieving technique often ask, “Does dry needling hurt?”. The very basic answer is it depends, but typically the pain doesn’t come from the needle. At IMPACT Physical Therapy and Sports Recovery, our skilled professionals deliver high-quality sports recovery services to personalize your recovery and prevent injuries. Learn about dry needling below, and contact us to learn how you can get back to activities around Hinsdale with ease.
The act of dry needling typically doesn’t hurt the patient. The therapist uses a guide tube to insert a sterile, thin filiform needle into the target muscle group. It isn’t like a needle used for blood draws; it’s much smaller. The small diameter of the needle and the technique used for quick placement get through the skin where the pain receptors are without stimulus.
People who are wondering if dry needling hurts are likely thinking of the reflexive actions of the muscles. Once the needle is inserted, people generally experience a local twitch response (LTR), which is a reflexive contraction of the muscle when the trigger point is released. There may be moments of cramping, an aching sensation, or other discomfort for a few seconds, followed by a release to the surrounding muscle tissue. Every person reacts differently to dry needling, so there’s no concrete answer to “Does dry needling hurt?” Our professionals are trained in a variety of therapeutic techniques to relieve your pain and increase your mobility.
When a patient is in pain, therapists examine the area for tenderness and/or palpable trigger points, which are tightly contracted bands or knots of muscle tissue. Dry needling uses a very thin needle to penetrate the skin and muscle to pinpoint the source of pain and promote healing. When a muscle is overworked and not receiving the appropriate amount of oxygen and nutrients, the needle can stimulate the nerves in the affected area to promote blood flow and the natural release of endorphins. Sometimes the relief is instantaneous and sometimes it can take several sessions to release the trigger point.
Dry needling and acupuncture both use needles for therapeutic pain relief, but is dry needling the same as acupuncture? Not exactly. Acupuncture is based on Eastern medicine and promotes healing by focusing and balancing the flow of energy in the body for the treatment of disease. Dry needling is based on a Western approach that treats pain and musculoskeletal conditions by releasing trigger points to interrupt the pain cycle. Dry needling can be used to target trigger points for chronic pain, lumbar pain, neck pain, plantar fasciitis, and more. Learn more about the best practices for your type of pain.
Dry needling isn’t something that you should be afraid of, even if you’re not the best with needles. Still wondering, “Does dry needling work?” Contact us at IMPACT Physical Therapy and Sports Recovery for more information. We can walk you through what to expect on your first visit and techniques to get you back to your active lifestyle in Oak Lawn.