Dry Needling--What it is and why we offer it
Dry needling is a relatively new treatment within physical therapy, but it is gaining support from both research and patient outcomes as a promising intervention not only for pain, but for improving muscle function as well. As noted in the Dry Needling section of our "Services" page, this technique involves inserting a very fine needle through the skin into a trigger point, which is a chemical and mechanical "hot spot" in a muscle. These trigger points can do one of two things. Active trigger points create pain at the spot and/or at points distant from the trigger point ("referred" pain). For example, a trigger point in one of the muscles around the shoulder may produce pain there and/or in the head and neck. Latent trigger points are only painful when pressed or when targeted by dry needling treatment. While these points do not produce active pain, the chemical and mechanical activity in these parts of the muscle may actually shut down or limit that muscle's ability to function properly, creating abnormal movement patterns that can lead to pain, limited mobility, and joint damage. There is also some evidence that these trigger points send messages back to the brain and spinal cord that, over time, can cause activation of other levels of the spinal cord and produce a more regional area of pain in the body.
For these reasons, Primary Solutions Physical Therapy decided to incorporate dry needling of trigger points into the services that we offer. Our therapist has undergone 54 hours of training, including many hours of lab practice both giving and receiving needling treatment. Dr. Gay was needled literally "from head to foot" during his two weekend training sessions, and can empathize with patients as they anticipate and experience this treatment. Dry needling is not necessarily comfortable, but the immediate and effective results can be remarkable. Dry needling is not for every patient, nor is it for every visit. With careful use as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, however, it may be a critical and important part of recovering maximum function and minimum pain.