What is Dry Needling?

Dr Amanda Pike
If you haven’t had dry needling before, here are a few common questions we get asked.

All of our practitioners at Enso Osteopathy are trained in the skill of Dry Needling. If it is something you are interested in doing, your Osteo might use dry needling as part of your treatment plan. If you haven’t had dry needling before, here are a few common questions we get asked.

Is dry needling the same as acupuncture?

Well not quite. Both practices use the same needles, but unlike practitioners of Chinese medicine, Osteopaths and other health professionals focus on targeted placement of the needles to release the trigger points in your muscles. Alternatively, acupuncture aims to restore balance back to the body. By inserting needles into different areas of the body to various depths, Chinese medicine practitioners focus on balancing the “qi” or the “yin” and “yang” of the body systems.

How does dry needling work?

Dry needling involves the use of sterile single use acupuncture needle into a specific, and often tight section of the muscle. The needle works by releasing and deactivating the myofascial tigger points (knots) that can create problems.

When you insert the needle into the knot, blood pools around the needle which allows the tight, contracted muscle fibres to relax. The fresh blood rushes into the muscle bringing oxygen and nutrients to the site while flushing away any acidic chemicals and waste products. Trigger points are also thought to have a neural component to them as well, with needling a key way to reduce local pain, increase motor control and therefore improve overall function.

Does Dry Needling hurt?

The length of the needle we use will depend on the area we are treating, but the thickness of the needle is always only a quarter of a millimetre thick (0.0025cm). Some people feel a little sting as the needle pokes the skin but this is gone within a second or two. Most of the time you barely feel them go in. And they are almost completely painless while they are in your muscles.

What are the benefits of dry needling?

  • the release of tightness in the muscles
  • increase flexibility of the muscle
  • improve joint range of motion
  • reduce stiffness in the muscle by removing the waste products left in the muscle
  • speeds up recovery
  • decrease pain with the release of neurotransmitters into the muscle which can help block pain information being sent from the brain

What are the best injuries for dry needling?

  • muscle strains - hamstring, calf, quad
  • ligament strains
  • tension in the shoulders
  • lower back pain
  • tennis elbow
  • sciatica

If you have been trying other forms of treatment and they haven’t been working, maybe it’s time to try dry needling. It might be the targeted deep release your muscles need.

If you don’t like needles, no worries! We don’t have to do this as part of your treatment, we will always ask first before using needles in practice, and there are plenty of alternatives to needling if needles make you squirm.

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