It’s a common misconception that physical therapy is just specific exercises and stretches designed to help you recover after an injury or surgery. Though physical therapy does include stretching and exercises, numerous other therapies and treatments fall under the physical therapy category 一 and one of those is dry needling.
Dry needling is often incorporated into physical therapy to help alleviate muscle pain, and it’s a treatment that Dr. Dustin Hamoy incorporates into physical therapy plans here at Precision Laser Joint and Spine Pain Center in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
Below, we take a closer look at dry needling and highlight five benefits of this treatment.
What is a dry needle?
During a dry needling treatment, Dr. Hamoy inserts several filiform needles into your skin. The word filiform means threadlike or filament-like, which explains why filiform needles earned this name. Filiform needles are thin, short, stainless steel needles 一 almost as thin as a piece of thread.
They are considered dry needles because they aren’t used to inject any medication into your body. (This is in contrast to the needles used for vaccines or medication administration that do inject liquid into your body. Those needles are referred to by gauges and are much bigger than the filiform needles used for dry needling.)
5 benefits of dry needling
Dry needling is primarily intended to reduce muscular pain. With this in mind, you can expect these five benefits:
1. Dry needling eases trigger points
Trigger points are hard knots in your muscles. These knots are made of tight muscle fibers and can form in your muscles after injuries and can cause pain. Trigger points are notoriously tender, sensitive, and cause both referred and localized pain.
When trigger point pain persists, it’s known as myofascial pain syndrome. Dry needling can help ease trigger point pain by helping your muscle relax. You might notice your muscles twitch at first before relaxing. Sometimes dry needling is called intramuscular stimulation for this reason.
2. Dry needling improves your flexibility
Pain combined with muscle stiffness can quickly reduce your flexibility, but dry needling can help restore the flexibility. Studies show that dry needling can start to improve muscle flexibility as quickly as 15 minutes after a dry needling treatment.
3. Dry needling increase your range of motion
Dry needling eases pressure in your trigger points and alleviates muscular tension. These two benefits combined work to increase your range of motion. Whether you’re an athlete or not, working toward restoring a full range of motion is likely part of your physical therapy goals.
4. Dry needling can be used to treat a variety of injuries
Dry needling can be used to treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including:
- Sports injuries
- Muscle pain, including overuse injuries
- Fibromyalgia pain
- Shoulder, hip, neck, and heel pain
- Back pain
Not only can dry needling be used to treat a variety of injuries, but it also helps alleviate pain. According to a 2021 study, dry needling produced analgesic effects when used to treat shoulder pain.
5. Dry needling creates minimal side effects
Although the thought of needles being inserted into your muscles sounds daunting, remember these needles are very fine. When administered by a skilled provider like Dr. Hamoy, dry needling is safe and effective. Side effects are mild and include temporary soreness at the needle insertion site and bruising. These side effects dissipate quickly.
Pregnant women, individuals with trypanophobia, and people on anticoagulants shouldn’t receive dry needling. If you fall into this category, Dr. Hamoy suggests other appropriate physical therapy treatments for you.
If you’re struggling with myofascial pain or other musculoskeletal conditions, consider dry needling. To learn more about dry needling 一 or any of our other services 一 call our Glen Burnie, Maryland, office at 410-324-2968. You can also schedule an appointment via our booking tool.