What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is one of our most used techniques at Next Level Chiropractic & Sports Rehab. It's a wonderful technique that can be used for all types of musculoskeletal complaints, but can be a game changer for those with chronic pain, nerve pain, or pain from trigger points/muscle spasm. 

Although the thought of using a needle for releive pain and injury is foreign to some, dry needling is proven to be safe, minimally uncomfortable (not painful) and can be amazingly effective for patients with certain pain syndromes or injury. Dry needling is a treatment performed by a skilled, trained chiropractor or physical therapist, who has taken a minimum of 54 hours of hands-on training. The type of needle that is used is called a monofilament needle, meaning it's a solid core needle (not like a needle for injections or blood draws) and is very thin in diameter to alleviate some of the associated discomfort that can be felt during a treatment. When a needle is inserted into the affected tissue, a cascade of deep bloodflow follows that is usually accompanied by immediate pain relief and increased freedom of movement. 

What does it treat?

One of the areas we can treat effectively with dry needling is called a trigger point. A trigger point is a local contracture or tight band in a muscle fiber that can disrupt function, restrict range of motion, refer pain or cause local symptoms. Most people refer to trigger points as "muscle knots". When dry needling is applied to a trigger point or muscle knot, it can immediately decrease tightness, increase blood flow, and reduce local and referred pain. Most patients can feel these trigger points and it will often be a spot they massage or try some self-myofascial release on, but these trigger points are found all over the body, especially in areas with associated pain or dysfunction. 

Another area we tend to use dry needling on is along the spine itself. Deep knots and restrictions can often be found in the smaller muscles along the spine like the multifidi or rotatores. Because these muscles are 1-3 inches below the skin, other techniques just don't have the depth to penetrate these areas and treat them effectively. Dry needling of these muscles can be a game changer for those with chronic pain in the shoulder blade area or the SI joint area as these are often triggered by referred pain mechanisms in the cervical or lumbar spine. 

At Bozeman Muscle & Joint Clinic we also use dry needling for many neuropathies and nerve pains. Nerve physiology lends itself to being particulary affected by dry needling in a positive way by increase deep local blood flow and providing the nervous system with an input that can have a "reseting" affect to nerve function. Things like carpal tunnel, sciatica, or smaller nerve entrapments can all benefit tremendously from dry needling. 

What's the difference between dry needling and acupuncture? 

While dry needling uses a similar needle to that of acupuncture, it is absolutely not the same as acupuncture. It uses similar tools, but that’s where the similarities end. Acupuncture is based on Eastern medicine with the goal of aligning Xi and energy fields (among other things), while dry needling is rooted in Western medicine by using the physiology of a needle stick to positively influence soft tissue, nerve, and joint healing.

How is dry needling used in your office?

Dry needling is rarely used as a standalone procedure. Rather, it is part of a broader chiropractic approach that often includes manipulation, other soft tissue modalities, and exercise.

In our office, dry needling is used for almost any musculoskeletal complaint (as long as the patient is comfortable with it of course). We tend to use it primarily for neck pain, back pain, nerve pain, shoulder blade pain, SI joint pain, almost any shoulder or hip pain, plantar fasciitis, or headaches. 

If you have questions regarding dry needling or how it may be able to help you we are happy to answer them!