What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a therapeutic procedure that involves the insertion of a sterile, solid, filiform needle into specifically selected points of the body. It is based on criteria determined by modern, contemporary anatomical and physiological consideration and with the intention of achieving a desired neurological or myofascial response.
Dry needling should be distinguished from “wet needling” in which a fluid substance is intentionally introduced into the body for therapeutic effect through a hollow hypodermic syringe type needle.
The needles which are used in contemporary dry needling and wet needling are completely different. One being solid and extremely fine compared to the hollo-bore hypodermic syringe which is much thicker in comparison. In the early days of dry needling, hypodermic syringe needles were used. This is due to the fact that sterile single use filiform needles were not widely available at the time. The doctors used the tools they were accustomed to using.
This scenario establishes that Dry Needling is not a derivative of acupuncture as much as it is a derivative of medical interventions that were being carried out in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s.
Goals of Dry Needling
Dry needling involves multiple advances of a thin needle into the muscle in the region of a “trigger point.” A myofascial trigger point is a tender ropey band in a muscle, which can cause pain at a site or refer pain to a specific area related to that muscle.
For example, patients experiencing pain down their leg may have a trigger point in the hip muscle that is causing that pain, which may necessitate treatment at the trigger point to decrease pain.
The goal of dry needling is to relieve pain(and dysfunction)—achieved by creating a local twitch response to release muscle tension in the nervous system. When a person experiences chronic pain, often the nerves system is overly sensitive and gets “stuck” in a cycle of unrelenting pain.
It essentially reboots the nervous system, breaking the pain cycle. In addition to treating muscular and nervous systems, the technique is also performed on tendons and ligaments to decrease pained expedite healing.