If You Suffer from Chronic Muscle Pain, Dry Needling Could Be the Solution

It might sound counterintuitive to treat pain using needles, but actually, dry needling is a very effective treatment for many types of pain, including chronic muscle pain and trigger-point pain. The key to getting the best results is to work with a practice that has a lot of experience in performing the technique and in identifying the types of pain that respond best to the dry needling technique.

At Open Water Medical, we offer dry needling using the most advanced techniques to help men and women relieve chronic pain, relying not only on in-depth training in dry needling techniques, but also on a thorough understanding of the mechanisms involved in most types of chronic pain problems. Here’s how dry needling works — and how it just might help you relieve your painful symptoms.

Dry needling vs. acupuncture: No, they’re not the same

It’s tempting to think dry needling and acupuncture are just two different names for the same treatment, but while they both use needles, the approach and intent are different. Acupuncture is a much older technique that’s based on the concept of Qi, the natural flow of energy through the body. Acupuncture techniques and treatments are designed to alter and optimize that energy flow, and as a result, acupuncture is used for issues aside from pain treatment. Dry needling, on the other hand, was developed specifically for the treatment of pain. It works by interrupting nerve signaling and muscle contractions associated with many types of neuromuscular pain and myofascial pain, like trigger points.

Dry needling uses very short stainless-steel needles sometimes called filiform (or “threadlike”) needles. Filiform needles are very, very fine, much thinner than the hollow needles used when you get a flu shot or during other injections. They’re called “dry” needles because they’re not used to inject medications. Instead, the practitioner places them in strategic locations in and around your muscles to help disrupt nerve signals that can make your muscles and other tissues irritated and painful.

During a dry needling treatment, these short, fine needles may be inserted directly into muscle knots and other areas of soreness, or they may be inserted in the tissues around the painful spot. The specific locations used during your treatment will depend a lot on your symptoms and other underlying factors. And, again depending on your specific needs, the needles may be left in place for a short period of time or they may be inserted and removed quickly in what’s commonly called a “pecking” or “pistoning” technique. All these options help ensure your treatment is tailored for your symptoms, so you can enjoy the best possible results.

Benefits of dry needling

Probably the most obvious benefit of dry needling is the pain relief it can provide. But there are other benefits, too. First, by releasing painful muscle knots or trigger points, dry needling can also help restore normal range of motion and mobility. When you’ve got a trigger point, it doesn’t just affect the local area of tissue. It can cause radiating symptoms of pain that in turn can cause stiffness and problems with normal movement. By treating those knots, local and radiating symptoms can be relieved, and you can get back to enjoying normal, pain-free movement again. 

Dry needling is also very precise. While a deep tissue massage can help relieve more diffuse areas of pain through the skin, dry needling affects the trigger point directly, interrupting nerve signaling that’s causing irritation and inflammation in and around the muscle. Plus, like massage, dry needling can also improve circulation in the area for faster healing.

And finally, dry needling can be an effective treatment used on its own, but it’s also very effective in combination with other treatments, like physical or occupational therapy or massage therapy. That makes it a great custom treatment option that can be tailored and changed over time to meet your specific needs. 

Learn more about dry needling for chronic pain

Dry needling treatments vary in length, depending on the areas being treated. Multiple areas can be treated in a single session, and treatment can be repeated; in fact, many chronic patients benefit from ongoing therapy to prevent painful symptoms from returning. If you have chronic pain from an accident, a disease, or an underlying pain syndrome, dry needling just might be the solution you've been looking for. To find out more about dry needling at Open Water Medical, book an appointment online today.

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