How Does Dry Needling Work?

Sep 30, 2022

When visiting a Denver physical therapy clinic, dry needling therapy may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But even if you’ve never heard of this type of therapy, it may be beneficial in treating an existing health problem. Dry needling uses thin needles to activate trigger points through various parts of the body. Research suggests  this action can activate the body’s natural healing process to help patients recover from injuries, accidents, and a range of different health issues. But what exactly is this unique type of therapy? And how does dry needling work? In this blog, we’re answering these questions and more to reveal the benefits of dry needling therapy.

At Total Physical Therapy, we specialize in a variety of different treatments to help as many patients as we can. As one of the leading physical therapy offices in Denver, we offer one-on-one access with many of Colorado’s top physical therapists to provide the most comprehensive care possible. We understand that each recovery is unique, which is why we develop personalized treatment plans based on your needs.

In addition to general physical therapy, our office also offers patients dry needling therapy, Kinesio taping, vestibular rehabilitation, and more. We also specialize rehabilitation and recovery and treating sports-related injuries. If you’re experiencing an injury affecting your musculoskeletal system, our evidence-based therapy techniques can speed up and improve your recovery, boost your physical performance, and even improve your overall physical and mental wellness. With our proven therapy techniques and dedicated team, Total PT can get you back to the lifestyle you love. 

What is Dry Needling?

According to the Mayo Clinic, dry needling, also known as trigger point dry needling, is a therapy that uses thin monofilament needles to activate muscle trigger points to encourage healing and pain relief throughout the body.

Following an injury, or even just from the wear and tear of daily life, our muscles can develop knotted areas called trigger points that become sensitive and painful. When the thin needles penetrate the skin and activate these trigger points, research suggests  this action can release endorphins, relieve pain, encourage healthy blood flow, and even “rewire” the nervous system to a healthier pattern of communication.

For many patients, dry needling is used in tandem with other forms of therapy, such as Denver sports recovery therapy, if the patient is recovering from a sports-related injury. Dry needling is also becoming increasingly popular in recent years. Unlike acupuncture, which has been a key component in traditional eastern medicine for centuries, dry needling has only been used for a few decades. However, the evidence suggests that dry needling can prove beneficial for patients experiencing pain or recovering from an injury. 

How Does Dry Needling Work?

So how does this therapy actually work? Dry needling uses very thin needles that are inserted through the skin into the muscle tissue. These needles are called “dry” because they’re not injecting anything into your body. A physical therapist will insert the needles in various muscle trigger points that may be causing the patient pain, sensitivity, or inflammation. To locate the trigger points, the therapist uses their hands to palpate the area and locate the trigger point. Some may also use a trigger point map of the body that identifies common trigger points that may be causing health problems.

An overworked or injured muscle develops a trigger point because it is unable to get the necessary blood supply it needs. Without adequate circulation, the muscle may not get enough of the oxygen and nutrients it needed to heal and return to its normal resting state. Additionally, the muscle tissue located near the trigger point tends to become more acidic, which causes the nerves to become more sensitized and painful or sore.

When the needles stimulate the muscle’s trigger points, this action encourages your body’s natural healing response and helps draw a healthy blood flow back to that area of tension. The action can also stimulate the brain to release endorphins to manage pain. When the trigger point is located, the needle often elicits a local twitch response, which is also known as a muscle spasm. While the spasms may cause mild soreness for a day or two following the therapy, it’s also a sign that the body is reacting and healing. 

What Kinds of Pain Can Dry Needling Treat?

Dry needling may prove beneficial for a variety of patients. If you’re experiencing one of the following health problems, dry needling could be an effective part of your therapy and recovery program.

·  Back pain.

·  Neck pain and stiffness.

·  Joint problems.

·  Headaches and migraines.

·  Tendinitis.

·  Jaw and mouth problems.

·  Whiplash.

·  Pelvic pain.

·  Spinal issues.

·  Carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Does Dry Needling Hurt?

With needles being inserted into various parts of your body, this question is perfectly natural. However, worrying about whether or not dry needling will hurt should not prevent you from potentially experiencing the many healthcare benefits associated with this therapy. For most patients, dry needling is completely painless. The needles used are so thin they do not cause any pain. In fact, most patients report the experience as relaxing, and for some, even pleasant. If at any point during your dry needling therapy you do experience pain, simply tell your therapist and they can adjust their technique.

When the needles are inserted, a common reaction is muscle twitching. Following the therapy, this can result in some mild soreness. This soreness may last for a day or two, but isn’t a cause for concern. In fact, this symptom is actually a sign that the treatment is working and feels similar to the soreness you experience after a good workout at the gym. 

Conclusion – How Does Dry Needling Work?

While dry needling may appear strange at first, countless patients have experienced a range of benefits from this type of therapy. For anyone experiencing chronic back pain, neck pain, joint stiffness or limited mobility, or even headaches and migraines, dry needling could be an effective part of your recovery plan. Using thin monofilament needles, dry needling activates muscle trigger points to spur the body’s natural healing mechanism. This enables patients to find relief from pain, better circulation and mobility, and can help you recover faster from an injury or an accident. As a safe and holistic approach to care, many patients prefer this type of treatment compared to other types of invasive treatments.

Total Physical Therapy is here for all of your injury recovery needs. With our unique approach to care, our physical therapy office utilizes close, one-on-one access with some of the top physical therapists in Denver. If you’ve been in a car accident, suffered a sports-related injury, require post-surgical treatment, or simply need relief from pain, our team can help. With a comprehensive, evidence-based, and holistic approach to care, our physical therapy experts offer personalized care for your full health.

Contact us today or call us at 303-758-5060 to schedule an appointment for your initial consultation. Together, let’s get you back to total health and wellness. 

Recent Articles

Does Medicare Pay for Physical Therapy?

Does Medicare Pay for Physical Therapy?

Medicare does cover physical therapy deemed necessary to treat injuries and illnesses, such as chronic conditions or fall recoveries. Additionally, Medicare covers occupational therapy, which includes therapy for daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, and...

read more
Does Physical Therapy Help With Arthritis?

Does Physical Therapy Help With Arthritis?

You may already know physical therapy can help those recovering from a major accident (like a car accident) or a sports-related injury. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the applications for physical therapy. This unique, hands-on approach to...

read more
7 Benefits of Physical Therapy

7 Benefits of Physical Therapy

Even if you’ve never received physical therapy, you probably have a good idea as to how it works. Through a series of specific stretches and exercises, a physical therapist helps their patient recover from an injury to find relief from pain and even improved...

read more

Schedule Your Dry Needling Appointment Today

You don’t have to spend another day in pain. Total Physical Therapy is here to help. Get started with your recovery and give us a call at (303) 758-5060 to schedule your preliminary physical therapy appointment. Our doctors will evaluate your therapy needs and determine a specialized treatment plan designed for you. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is available daily throughout the week to offer support and detailed information about how we can treat any of your musculoskeletal injuries.

Schedule your appointment with Total Physical Therapy today.