You’ve probably heard about acupuncture, a technique that uses tiny needles inserted into pressure points in your body to bring healing and pain relief. Dry needling is very much like acupuncture, but it focuses on treating trigger points in your muscles to reduce pain. These trigger points are more commonly referred to as “knots” in your muscles.
What Is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is used to treat myofascial pain syndrome, which can occur in any of the muscles of the body. The fascial tissue connects and stabilizes the muscles in your body. The knotting of your muscles you may experience when sore is also called myofascial trigger points.
These trigger points are connected to the chronic pain you may feel in your back or neck. Just as in massage, calming these trigger points helps relieve pain and stiffness. The insertion of a filiform needle similar to an acupuncture needle at the trigger point causes a brief spasm that will cause the knotting to abate.
Sometimes dry needling is performed with a small hypodermic needle; it’s called “dry” needling because nothing is injected into the trigger point. These days acupuncture needles are used more often than hypodermic needles, however.
How Does Dry Needling Help?
Dry needling is often used in conjunction with other back pain treatments such as physical therapy and massage. Dry needling can help work out the knots that massage can’t, and can reduce the pain experienced from exercising.
Because of this, dry needling is increasingly practiced by physical therapists in conjunction with physical therapy as part of neck and back pain treatment. Generally, people who have experienced pain for a long time may require more sessions than those who have recent or minor neck and back pain.