Dry needling (also known as myofascial trigger point dry needling or intramuscular stimulation) was developed 50 years ago designed to relieve muscle pain and increase mobility without the use of drugs.
During dry needle therapy, a chiropractor or physical therapist will insert small, thin needles into trigger points (knots or tight areas) in your muscles. Nothing is injected into the muscles through the needle, hence the term “dry.”
When the needle hits the trigger point, it relaxes the tense muscle, which is typically felt as a spasm or cramp; the result is pain relief. Dry needling is rarely used on its own. It is most effective as part of an overall therapy regimen.
What is dry needling used for?
Dry needling is primarily used for patients suffering from myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), which is just the medical term for chronic muscle pain. MPS occurs when the tissue (or fascia) on the outside of one or more muscles is inflamed. Muscle weakness, restricted movement, extreme tenderness, and local or regional pain are all signs of MPS.
There are many possible underlying causes of MPS. If you suffer from any of the following symptoms or conditions, you may be a good candidate for dry needling:
- Overuse injuries (e.g., tennis elbow, runner’s knee, carpal tunnel)
- Chronic neck and back pain (especially low back pain)
- Joint pain
- Sports injuries
- Post-stroke symptoms
- Migraine and tension headaches
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (or TMJ, which is when the joint connecting your skull to your jaw is damaged)
- Spinal pain
- Muscle cramping
- Post-herpetic neuralgia (pain after you have shingles)
- Tight muscles or knots
Talk with your chiropractor or doctor to determine whether dry needling makes sense for you.