What is the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?
Dry needling and acupuncture are similar in the sense that the same equipment is used- sterile monofilament acupuncture needles. They way that dry needling is taught and used is what makes it different from acupuncture. Dry needling is used to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal issues, where acupuncture is used for a holistic reason following traditional Chinese Medicine beliefs. Acupuncture follows meridians that are associated with certain points that correspond to the issue the patient presents with. Dry needling is sometimes described as an “intramuscular manual therapy” which means doing manual therapy on the inside of the muscle.
When an exam is performed on the musculoskeletal system, soft tissue problems are typically found. What this means is that there is a muscle that is not working properly; it is either activating too much or not activating enough. Dry needling is a way to address these soft tissue problems, deeper. It is used in conjunction with other treatments offered such as myofascial release, SASTM, ultrasound, deep muscle stimulation and joint manipulation or mobilization.
What conditions can it help?
Dry needling can help with any condition where there are soft tissue disturbances. Some common examples include:
- Repetitive strain/sprain injuries
- Golfer’s elbow
- Tennis elbow
- Frozen shoulder
- Sciatic pain
- Muscle spasms
- Lower back and hip pain
- Shin splints
- Knee pain
- Achilles tendonitis
- Plantar fasciitis
People often ask what it will feel like when the needles are inserted. It is common to not feel when the needle penetrates the skin. At some locations, a local twitch response can create a brief pain response that is often described as an electric shock or cramping sensation.
After your treatment, you could feel a number of different ways and have a variety of reactions that are typical and that should not alarm you.
What can I expect after treatment?
Below you will find the more common effects associated with Dry Needling treatment. You may feel very tired for a few hours, you should always drink water after treatment to help flush metabolic “junk” that occurs with manual therapies out of your system. Some people report feeling very energized and euphoric. Give some time to recover before returning to normal levels of activity, as your body may need some time to fully recover. If you are sore in the area of treatment for 24-48 hours, take a hot shower and then apply ice. Feeling sore or a dull ache is very typical and is often described as feeling like you just had a hard workout. You could develop a bruise, while not always pretty, do not be alarmed, but do report it to the doctor. -You may see reddened areas or feels a raised or lumpy reaction, this will typically pass within a few hours or by the end of the next day, and these are typical tissue reactions that are of no concern. -You may feel a temporary increase in your symptoms but will often improve the next day. Remember to report any and all of your reactions to the doctor whether good or bad.