Dry Needling is a procedure where a filiform needle is inserted at specific points, muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the body. While needles are used for treatment, dry needling is not Acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine. IDN and TPDN are based on biomechanics, neurology, and physiology. Depending on the case, it is performed with needles alone or in conjunction with electric muscle stimulation.
Dry Needling is not a standalone procedure. It is performed in conjunction with a treatment plan with defined goals and outcomes. Like any procedure, the better you are a candidate for treatment, the better your outcome.
Conditions commonly treated:
Neck and Back Pain Headaches TMJ pain
Shoulder pain Tennis elbow Knee pain
Carpal Tunnel Sprains & Strains Hip pain including bursitis
Plantar fasciitis Achilles pain Glute and hamstring pain
There are a number of reasons why muscle will become hypertonic. Poor posture, acute trauma, repetitive injury, poor mechanics with exercise or athletics, etc… Regardless the cause, tissue damage and inflammation will cause a muscle contraction to prevent further injury and avoid pain. If left untreated, scar tissue will develop and cause muscle shortening. This can cause a localized ache in the muscle, referral pain like a tension headache, and can even entrap nerves. This is commonly felt and described as a painful knot in the belly of a muscle.
Dry Needling can break-up fibrous adhesions if present and modulate muscle spindle receptors to relax and elongate muscles. The relaxation is typically felt immediately and a carry-over effect because the receptor modulation. In other words, lasting improvement.
An inhibited muscle is not the same as a weak muscle. A weak muscle should still be able to “lock” under load. Muscle inhibition is a neurological phenomenon which prevents full or proper muscle contraction to stabilize a joint. It can occur after an injury causing a shortened but weak muscle. It occurs with joint injury or after surgery in the form of arthogenic inhibition; this is a phenomenon where the muscle which crosses over an injured joint is neurologically “turned-off” from joint trauma. And, chronic muscle tension can reflexively inhibit opposing muscles. Said another way… if your hip flexors (psoas) are always tight, your hip extensors (glutes) will be neurologically “turned-off.”
Being able to touch your toes is not the same thing has having good mobility. There is a difference between being mobile and being flexible. Mobility is being able to take your joint(s) through a full range of motion under load, particularly without pain. The amount of mobility may depend on your individual anatomy or maybe some degenerative changes but in general, a stiff joint is not a healthy joint. And a stiff joint is a painful joint. Muscle imbalances and shorted tissues is one of the major causes of poor mobility.
Dry needling improves joint mobility by relaxing tight or shortened muscles. It helps centrate joints, creating proper alignment by reducing muscle imbalances. Muscle imbalances are caused by facilitated and inhibited muscle patterns created by your nervous system in an effort to find a way around an injury (a compensation pattern).
This gets a little involved and complicated… Integrative Dry Needling does this in 3 ways.
Dry Needling works synergistically to speed recovery and reduce pain
Since were affecting the nervous system, we are helping the brain and body “grove” new and more efficient pathways. This makes changes longer lasting and increasing performance and durability.