Dry needling is the use of a very fine, sterile, single-use filament needle, inserted into painful muscles, tendons or ligaments. It is an effective technique intended to specifically target and restore muscle function, with an emphasis on improving tissue healing and restoring normal tissue function.
Dry needles are used to release trigger points, which relax the muscles to improve nerve conduction and blood supply. The goal is to reduce muscle pain and spasm, improve range of motion, and therefore improve overall function.
DRY NEEDLING VS MASSAGE
Everyone experiences a different response to dry needling. Generally, needle insertion is not felt; however local twitch response or sudden slight contraction of the muscle may provoke a very brief pain response.
This is usually fleeting, and people tend to forget that the needle is in. Other people feel a sensation of familiarity and the satisfaction that you are “hitting the spot”, which can be very therapeutic. You may also feel a sensation of pulsing, blood rush and relaxation.
Dry needling can be used as an adjunct to massage and soft tissue work, as it allows the practitioner to affect the problem areas more quickly, and it can often make massage more effective. The benefit of dry needling over massaging is that it may take several treatments to achieve the same response that we could achieve in one dry needle session.
When we Dry Needle, we are inserting the needle directly into the problem area. It can be extremely effective for relaxing trigger points (hyperirritable spots) in overactive muscles as needles can “hit the spot” with far more precision than a massage.
Here is a great video that explains how dry needling works.