Injuries to soft tissue can be frustrating. Seemingly out of nowhere, constant nagging pain can occur. This can be especially concerning when stretching, rest, massage and other self-care strategies seem to be ineffective. Patients with these types of concerns are frequently seen here at the clinic. An investigation into the history of the pain often reveals auto accidents, postural strain, and sports injuries as the cause for long-term soft tissue pain. A custom-fit approach to addressing the needs of these patients is the best way to help them get back to enjoying life without pain. Dry needling is just one such tool that we add to our toolbox to accomplish this.
It is important to note that dry needling is not the same as acupuncture, which is a form of Chinese medicine that involves the insertion of needles into specific points on the body for the purpose of balancing the flow of energy through the body.
Dry needling is a form of soft tissue therapy treatment that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body, without the use of medication or injection. Dry needling is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain, neck pain, and muscle spasms. It may also be used to treat headaches, tendonitis, and other conditions.
During a treatment, needles are typically left in place for a few minutes before being removed. Sometimes the area is moved passively or actively, or electronic muscle stimulation is applied to produce muscle movement in order to increase circulation and lymphatic drainage in the injured area, to improve the effectiveness of the treatment. Some people may experience a sensation of twitching or cramping in the muscles during treatment, which is a sign that the needles are stimulating the correct areas.
As with any soft tissue therapy, the primary goals of Dry Needling are to:
Dry Needling decreases pain by creating a localized endorphin response, blunting the pain mechanism present in injured tissues. This “microinjury” creates a special effect within the tissue, that kick starts the healing process. When the needle is inserted, it disturbs the fascia in the area, and cuts a tiny hole, which activates the cells that produce collagen. This collagen production works to resurface injured muscle, ligament and tendon, adding strength and smoothness to chronically tight, roughened tissue.
Another effect that the needle insertion produces is a localized inflammatory response. Inflammation is not always bad. What this localized effect accomplishes is increased blood flow, not so much pain in the area, although some mild tenderness can sometimes occur. This increased blood flow is critical to assisting the injured tissues in healing.
We tell patients when explaining soft tissue healing: increased blood flow helps get the “groceries” in and the “garbage” out. There are components from the bloodstream that need to be pushed into the area to rebuild the injury, as well as compounds and proteins that have to be shuttled out of the injured area to be broken down. A great analogy for visualizing soft tissue healing is the resurfacing of a road: the old road surface has to be ground out, removed, and then replaced with a new, smooth road surface. This process is what happens in your chronically tight, sore soft tissues as they are undergoing a healing process.
At Windy Ridge, we use multiple therapies in conjunction with chiropractic adjusting to address the specific needs of our patients. We customize our treatment to the needs, goals, and comfort of our patients to find the most effective solution.