When visiting a Denver physical therapy office, patients often are surprised to learn that there are many different types of therapy available. In addition to general physical therapy, physical therapy offices often offer specific treatment for sports injuries, Kinesio taping, vestibular rehabilitation, and even dry needling. Similar to acupuncture (although different in several key ways), dry needling can help relieve pain, improve mobility, and treat a wide range of musculoskeletal injuries.
But what exactly is this type of therapy? If you’ve never received this type of care before, you may be hesitant to give it a shot. Is it really safe (and painless) to have a licensed therapist insert needles into your body? In this blog, we answer all these questions and more to help you better understand this safe, holistic, and effective form of care.
Total Physical Therapy is one of the leading physical therapy offices serving Colorado and the greater Denver metro area. We understand that every recovery process is unique, which is why we create personalized treatment plans for each of our physical therapy patients. We offer one-on-one access with Denver’s top physical therapists so you receive the best care possible. If you’re experiencing a musculoskeletal injury, our evidence-based, hands-on therapy techniques have been proven to speed up and improve your recovery, boost your physical performance, and even improve your overall physical and mental wellness.
With open communication, advanced and proven therapy techniques, and our entire healthcare staff dedicated to your recovery, Total PT can get you back to the life you love.
What is Dry Needling?
Before we dive into the benefits of this type of therapy, let’s first start with a definition. What exactly is dry needling? This form of therapy is surprisingly common and is offered in physical therapy offices across the country. Dry needling uses thin monofilament needles to penetrate the skin. This motion targets specific muscular trigger points in the body, such as in your calf muscles, hamstrings, and upper trapezius.
As a result, many patients experience quick pain relief, improved blood flow and circulation, and reduced tension. For some patients, dry needling can even work to restore mobility and benefit the nervous system. Dry needling is often used in tandem with other forms of physical therapy, such as Denver sports recovery, to offer patients a safe and holistic approach to care and recovery.
How is Dry Needling Different From Acupuncture?
At first glance, it may seem that dry needling is essentially the same type of treatment as acupuncture. In reality, however, the primary similarity is really just the tool. Both types of treatment utilize thin needles to treat patients, but the intended effects are rather different between dry needling and acupuncture.
Roughly 3,000 years ago, acupuncture began appearing in eastern medicine practices. This type of treatment uses thin, metallic needles to puncture the skin along specific energy points in the body that influence your Qi (or energy flow). Traditional practitioners of acupuncture believe that disruptions to your energy flow, caused by injury, stress, or simply the wear and tear of your daily life, can lead to disease and problems healing.
By inserting the acupuncture needles into specific points in the body, acupuncturists can realign the energy flow in the body to encourage healing and recovery. Acupuncture can be used to treat a variety of health conditions, such as back pain, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, or osteoarthritis.
How Does Dry Needling Work?
Dry needling is much more than simply sticking needles in a patient’s body. Dry needling is an evidence-based treatment method that has become increasingly popular over the last few decades. Unlike acupuncture, which has been used in traditional eastern medicine for centuries, dry needling is a much newer type of treatment. Dry needling encourages your body to heal naturally to boost recovery and treat musculoskeletal injuries.
So, how does this treatment work? When the thin needles are inserted into the muscle trigger points, this puncture creates a small lesion that spurs your body’s natural healing response. This process works to heal injured or inflamed soft tissue. As your body releases chemicals in its healing response, patients can experience quick pain relief, better motion throughout the body, and a faster, long-lasting recovery.
What Types of Injuries Can Be Treated by Dry Needling?
Dry needling can be an effective form of therapy for a variety of different injuries and illnesses. By relieving pain, improving tissue healing and circulation, and restoring nervous system functioning, dry needling can effectively treat health conditions including:
- Back pain.
- Neck pain or stiffness.
- Sciatica pain.
- Migraines and headaches.
- Sports-related injuries, such as tennis elbow.
- Joint injuries or limited mobility.
Does Dry Needling Hurt?
Many potential patients may be hesitant to try dry needling over concerns that this type of treatment could be painful. However, this fear is a bit unfounded. Most patients note that dry needling is a painless experience. When the needles are inserted, your muscles may twitch in response, which can cause a mild soreness. But for the most part, the needles are so thin that they do not cause pain. After the treatment, patients may experience sore muscles for a day or two, similar to how you’d feel after a good workout.
4 Benefits of Dry Needling
When receiving dry needling treatment, patients can expect to receive multiple benefits toward improving their overall health and wellness.
Some of the top benefits of dry needling therapy include:
- Quick pain relief: by targeting your body’s trigger points, dry needling can encourage your body’s healing process and quickly relieve joint or muscle pain.
- Faster recovery: serious injuries can take a long time to heal. Without proper treatment, they may even become worse. Dry needling activates your body’s natural healing process to allow for a faster, longer lasting recovery.
- Restore full range of motion: by relieving both pain and pressure, especially along your joints, dry needling can restore your range of motion.
- A noninvasive approach to care: compared to other treatments, such as surgery or medication, dry needling is far less invasive and safe for your body.
Conclusion – 4 Benefits of Dry Needling
If you’re experiencing chronic back pain, neck pain or stiffness, headaches or migraines, or any other musculoskeletal injury, you may benefit from dry needling. This type of treatment involves using thin monofilament needles to activate muscle trigger points. This puncture spurs the body’s natural healing process so that patients can recover faster, find relief from pain, and improve the functioning of their overall nervous system. As a safe and noninvasive approach to care, many patients prefer this type of treatment.
If you’re interested in dry needling therapy or any other form of physical therapy, Total Physical Therapy is here for your healthcare needs. With our unique approach to care, our physical therapy office offers close, one-on-one access with Denver’s top physical therapists. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, sports-related injury, require post-surgical treatment, or simply need relief from chronic pain, we’re here to help. Receiving regular physical therapy can even boost your physical performance and help you lower your risk of future injury. With a comprehensive, noninvasive, and holistic approach to care, our physical therapy experts offer personalized care for your total health.
Don’t wait in pain any longer. Contact us today, or you can always call us at 303-758-5060 to schedule an appointment for your initial consultation. Together, let’s get you back to the active lifestyle you love.