- Posted by Caitlyn Radford
- On November 15, 2018
Dry Needling by a Physiotherapist: What You Should Know
By Ross De Valle, Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and Partner at First Choice Health
You may have heard friends talking about their physiotherapist performing acupuncture on them for management of their back pain, neck pain or some other soft tissue injury. Dry Needling is certainly a treatment that the physiotherapists at First Choice Health have studied and routinely incorporate into treatment sessions.
Intramuscular stimulation, or ‘dry needling’ has recently become a popular treatment choice in the management of many musculoskeletal conditions. It has developed from the western medicine application of the concepts of acupuncture in traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture has been used as a treatment in Asia for more than 3000 years and is based on the holistic concepts of traditional Chinese medicine being the spiritual paradigm of energy pathways and meridians which are not necessarily physiological. In both acupuncture and dry needling, the needle is the primary instrument, however the treatment approaches or philosophies differ and treatment effects will not always be the same.
The purpose of dry needling is to stimulate and reverse the contraction or shortening of muscles, and this treatment can be applied to muscles, tendons, ligaments and trigger points (ie a tender spot in a tight band of muscle, eg a ‘nodule’ or ‘knot’ that causes pain when pressed or squeezed).
Research has shown that dry needling can assist in the management of various musculoskeletal conditions including headache and muscle pain (Huguenin, 2004). The mechanisms of dry needling have been evaluated and accepted by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (1989).
At First Choice Health, dry needling is rarely used as a sole treatment and is more regularly used in combination with other manual therapy techniques. After thorough subjective and objective assessment, a physiotherapist may consider dry needling as a possible treatment option. Dry needling may not appeal to all patients and it is the physiotherapist’s role to identify who is appropriate for this technique.
References available on request.
By Ross de Valle, Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist