Dry Needling Morayfield & Caboolture
Your muscles work every day to support your body and enable movement. You might push some muscles hard during exercise. You might also unwittingly tense certain muscles when you're under stress.
Often that's fine. The contracted muscle relaxes and all is well. Sometimes, though, the muscle develops a tense and tender ‘knot’, which feels harder than the surrounding muscle and can be painful. That’s where dry needling can help.
What is dry needling?
Dry needling involves inserting a fine needle into one of those irritated muscle spots (which are known as myofascial trigger points) to relieve your pain.
Now, poking that sore spot in your calf with a needle might seem like the silliest idea you’ve ever heard. How on earth will that help?
We’re still learning exactly how dry needling works. Does it help by altering nerve activity (neuromodulation)? By releasing ‘knotted’ muscles? Or by improving local blood flow? These are fascinating research questions.
What we are certain about is that dry needling is best used as part of an overall treatment plan for a number of musculoskeletal conditions.
Don’t try this at home though! The needle needs to be inserted by a trained professional who knows exactly where to place it to ease your pain. Once the needle has been properly inserted, it causes a local twitch response, which releases the tense muscle and allows proper blood flow to the area.
Why is it called 'dry needling'?
Admittedly, it’s an odd name. It refers to the type of needles used.
Some needles are simply a delivery mechanism for a ‘wet’ medicine. The hollow needle pierces your skin and a therapeutic liquid is injected into your body. If you’ve ever had a vaccination, you’ll be familiar with the process.
A dry needle is different though. Because there is no substance being delivered through these solid needles, they can be much finer in diameter, so you may not even feel them at all.
What is dry needling used for?
Dry needling is used to release muscle tightness and increase your range of motion. It’s often used to treat:
- Joint problems
- Disc difficulties
- Migraine and tension headaches
- Repetitive strain injuries
Dry needling is rarely a standalone treatment. It is almost always used as part of a broader treatment plan that may involve physiotherapy exercises, massage or other techniques to ease your symptoms.
What are the benefits of dry needling?
A systematic review of randomised controlled trials of dry needling published from 2000-2015 found that dry needling can:
- Provide short-term pain relief
- Increase range of motion
- Improve quality of life.
There wasn’t enough evidence to say whether it had any effect on disability, use of painkillers or sleep.
What are the risks of dry needling?
Side effects of dry needling can include:
- Some soreness or bleeding around the insertion site
Is there anyone who shouldn't have dry needling?
Well, if you have a fear of needles then this probably isn’t the treatment for you!
Dry needling is also not recommended if you are:
- Recovering from surgery
- Living with a blood clotting disorder
- Taking blood-thinning medication.
What's the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?
Dry needling and acupuncture share many similarities but there are important differences between them.
They both involve inserting a short, solid needle at a carefully chosen place to relieve pain. Indeed, if you’ve had both acupuncture and dry needling, the experiences may feel almost identical.
If we go a bit deeper though, the differences between acupuncture and dry needling become clear.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice dating back over two thousand years. It targets your body’s nervous system with the intention of releasing Qi or energy. The sites for needle insertion are chosen based on your body’s meridian lines, the channels that carry life-giving energy through your body according to traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture aims to remove blockages in order to restore this energy flow. Scientific research into acupuncture suggests that it may help to relieve some types of pain.
Dry needling is a much newer practice that has arisen from the Western scientific tradition. Rather than targeting your nervous system, dry needling works on your muscles, aiming to release spots of muscle tension so that blood and oxygen can flow in and other chemicals can flow out. There are still many questions about exactly how it works.
How can Sycamore Health help?
If you’ve noticed some tender spots in your muscles or if you’re living with pain and think dry needling might help, then please call us.
We’ll check you over and advise on whether dry needling might be helpful as part of a broader treatment plan.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.