Jesse Schulz, PT, DPT, Ripon Medical Center
The use of needles for treatment of pain and medical conditions is not new. Most of us at some point have received an injection. Receiving a flu shot or an injection for pain in a joint is considered “wet needling.” Dry needling on the other hand, entails the use of a needle without injecting any fluid into the body. In the United States dry needling has been practiced by some in the medical community since the 1970s or earlier. It has more recently gained popularity in the United States by medical doctors, physical and occupational therapists.
Acupuncture vs. dry needling
Acupuncture is Chinese medicine performed by an acupuncturist that uses energy meridians and typically uses a tongue and pulse diagnosis to direct treatment. Dry needling is a treatment done by medical doctors, physical therapists and occupational therapists whom have taken specialty training with the purpose of affecting how your nerves and muscles function which can help with pain, muscle tightness, motion limitations and strength.
What it works for
There is a growing body of evidence to support the use of dry needling for those individuals whom have chronic conditions (I.e. an issue for longer than three months.) Dry needling is best used in conjunction with the typical physical therapy treatments rather than as a stand-alone treatment.
What is a treatment like?
You may not feel anything during the treatment or you may feel a poke from the needle. Sometimes when a target muscle is touched by the needle there is an ache that lasts several seconds. There may be immediate improvement after the treatment or the benefits may come several days following the treatment. The treatment length can last between seconds and 20 minutes depending upon the purpose of the treatment and if electricity is used to provide a larger treatment effect. Sometimes a person can be dizzy or lightheaded for a short time following treatment.
To learn more about dry needling at Ripon Medical Center’s Sports & Spine, call 920-747-3630.