BritPT - Dry Needling

Dry Needling

History and Concept

The North Carolina Physical Therapy Association (NCPTA), in September 2010, approved dry needling to be performed by PT's in NC.  I pursued training with Myopain Seminars who are currently teaching the most comprehensive course in the US, and internationally at this time. Jan Dommerholt PT who owns the company with Robert Gerwinn MD (neurologist) are writing the guidelines for the APTA, our national association.  

You always have to be cautious relying on the accuracy of a Wikipedia page, but the sources there for dry needling are sound, and both my teachers are cited on it.  You'll find it here.

A crucial fact to digest is that despite using a common tool, dry needling is not acupuncture. There is no reference to the practice of Chinese medicine, we are treating what we understand about trigger points in the muscular system from a Western perspective. The therapist is in constant contact with the needle as they gently isolate trigger points and disrupt them permanently, allowing the local area to re-establish homeostasis -- the dynamic balance of nutrients and oxygen provided by the optimized blood flow, and the acidic waste products of metabolism flushed away. Although there is some discomfort during the process, 85-95% of clients return and will request further needling as a result of the relief and increased function they enjoyed.

Some points will be local and some will be in other locations referring into the painful area. Most clients are pleasantly surprised by the experience, feeling a cramping, pulling sensation rather than a sharp needle. The needles themselves are a fraction of the diameter of a hypodermic, 0.30 of a mm, and are solid so that nothing can be injected through them, hence the "dry" needling.

So if you have that deep nagging ache/pain that nothing else can quite reach, and massage therapy feels good for a while but does not seem to be getting to the root of the problem, you might want to try a session with the needling. The results can be far-reaching, even for chronic pain sufferers with significant X-Ray and MRI changes. I have several clients who have had multiple level fusions, for instance, and complex spinal surgery or joint replacements, who are enjoying less pain and increased movement and function than they have had in years. See some testimonials below.

Further Reading

You can read more about how athletes are using dry needling on Velonews, its effectiveness for treating lateral epicondylitis, and an article in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine that cites numerous trials on the efficacy of dry needling, especially for myofascial pain syndrome. For those of you who like to do extensive reading of more scholarly medical articles, here's a good one (though dated 2006) from the Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy.

Testimonials from my patients specifically on dry needling include:

I am a retired physician who has a history of soft tissue injuries involving the obliques  and quadratus lumborum muscles. I  first had the opportunity to be treated at BritPT four yeas ago with excellent results using ultrasound and deep tissue massage therapy. I continue to do core exercises and have massage therapy for these muscles groups under the direction of BritPT . For several months I have experienced muscle tightness in both hip areas, particularly involving the gluteus minimus and medius muscles.Recently, I read an article about the 'dry needle' technique being used as a alternative to deep tissue massage and knew that BritPt was now offering this therapy. I had this 'dry needle' procedure performed 2 months ago with excellent results for my muscle tightness in the above mentioned areas. I was so impressed with the results that I had a second series of 'dry needles' !! I continue to do core exercises and have deep tissue massage, but I would definitely recommend this new technique for anyone that has persistent muscle tightness that does not respond to deep tissue massage.”

- K.Y.

“I first went to Lorraine for acute pain in my left leg/hip.  She suggested dry needling for the second visit.  Being a skeptic, I hesitantly gave it a try.  The next day, I had about 80% pain relief.  Came back the next week for a repeat treatment and within 48 hours I had complete pain relief.  When Lorraine finds the exquisitely tender places in the muscle, there is a quick, initial discomfort and then it quickly subsides.  After the procedure, I felt pressure and a slight ache, similar to receiving in injection into a muscle.  Using heat the same day and less the next day takes care of the soreness.

Perhaps the most dramatic pain relief was for pain in my right arm, just medial to the bend in the arm.  The simple act of splashing water on my face with my arm bent caused arm pain.  I had this exercise-related pain for more than a year and thought I would just have to live with it.  I figured if the left leg/hip pain was such a success, then maybe I could get similar relief in my arm.  Less than 24 hours after dry needling in my right arm, I was pain free.  Unbelievable!!”

  1. -Vivian S.

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