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What Is Dry Needling, and How Does It Affect Sore Muscles?

Do you suffer from persistent, nagging muscle pain, muscular tension, or muscle spasms? Muscle strains and other injuries often lead to long-term health and mobility issues if ignored. Effective Chiropractic PG County provides dry needling therapy for patients in Lanham, Maryland, and surrounding areas. Dry needling therapy is also referred to as trigger point dry needling, myofascial trigger point dry needling, and intramuscular manual therapy. Whatever you prefer to call it, dry needling therapy is commonly used by chiropractors and physical therapists to treat acute and chronic pain, spinal issues, migraines, whiplash, repetitive motion disorders, and impaired movements of all kinds. If you’ve tried more traditional forms of therapy to no avail, dry needling therapy could be the solution you’re seeking.

Why’s It Called Dry Needling, and What Should I Expect?

Dry needling therapy uses “dry” needles (no liquids or medications are injected through them) that are inserted directly into your muscles in strategic trigger points to help alleviate chronic pain and discomfort. Trigger points, also referred to as pressure points or areas of knotted hard muscle, are typically found along your neck, back, and arms, although runners and other types of athletes also have them in their legs. Trigger points are ultrasensitive and may impact other areas of the body when touched. Dry needling stimulates your muscle tissues, altering how your brain and nerves communicate with your muscles. There is such a thing as “wet” needling, involving needles administering corticosteroids or anesthetics, but that has nothing to do with the dry needling process described here.

How Long and How Often Are Dry Needling Therapy Sessions?

Your first dry needling therapy session could last 30 minutes. There’s no specific amount of time the needles need to remain inserted during dry needling therapy, so treatment times will vary by practitioner dependent upon your condition and its severity. The needles could be removed in mere seconds or remain in as long as 15 minutes. There’s also no set rule about how deep the needles need to penetrate, meaning they could just be placed in superficially or they could be placed deeper past several layers of skin and fat to penetrate the muscle.

The frequency of dry needling therapy sessions is also dependent upon your condition. If you feel minor muscle soreness after a session, we may wait a certain period of time before attempting another round of therapy. While there’s also no “one size fits all” in terms of how many dry needling therapy sessions are needed, many patients see an average of 12-15 sessions. Because chiropractors prefer to use a combination of techniques for the best course of treatment, dry needling therapy is typically part of a larger overall treatment plan and isn’t often recommended on its own. For example, we may suggest combining it with exercises or physical therapy for maximum effectiveness.

What Kind of Pain Is Commonly Treated by Dry Needling?

Because athletes are prone to repetitive motion disorders and muscle strains, dry needling therapy is often used to help them recover from sports-related injuries. Not only does it result in faster recovery, but it can help them improve their range of motion and relax tight or tense muscles for improved performance. Effective Chiropractic PG County uses dry needling therapy to treat both acute and chronic pain and many types of neuromuscular conditions, including all of the following:

  • Chronic injuries
  • Neck or back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscle strains
  • Migraines and tension headaches
  • Whiplash
  • Repetitive motion disorders, including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Tendinitis
  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Hip or knee pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Joint problems
  • Disc issues
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)
  • Pelvic pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Auto accident injuries
  • Workplace injuries

How Are Dry Needling Therapy and Acupuncture Different?

You may be asking yourself how dry needling therapy and acupuncture differ. It’s a fair question to ask, as they do sound pretty similar in layman’s terms. They also tend to look a lot alike in photographs on the Internet. Based on traditional Chinese medicine that’s been practiced for centuries, acupuncture uses needles to stimulate specific areas of the body to alter its flow of energy (Qi or chi) to aid in treating various health conditions. Dry needling therapy is similar in that it also uses fine needles inserted in specific trigger points to alleviate chronic pain and discomfort.

What Are the Benefits of Dry Needling Therapy?

Research indicates that dry needling therapy helps reduce muscle tension while improving an individual’s range of motion. Dry needling eases joint pain, loosens stiff or sore muscles, and helps to improve blood flow and oxygen circulation. It’s also believed to improve how effectively nerve impulses are transmitted from your brain and nervous system to your muscles, allowing for a speedier recovery time for many injuries. Studies have shown it’s successful in both short- and long-term improvements, with many patients feeling remarkably better in as little as one treatment session. However, it’s not unusual for it to take several sessions before your muscles are fully functional, as most trigger points are found under many deep layers of muscles. Dry needling is just another way of tapping into the body’s potential to naturally heal itself without the use of invasive surgical procedures or pain medications.

Does Dry Needling Therapy Hurt? What Kind of Needles Are Used?

Dry needling therapy uses filiform needles that are so thin that most patients don’t even feel them penetrating their muscle. If you do feel anything, it would be similar to a minor muscle cramp or twitch. Slight bleeding is a possibility at the site where each needle was inserted. Some patients also experience mild muscle soreness, fatigue, or bruising after treatment, but this isn’t always the case. Anyone can benefit from dry needling therapy, though it isn’t recommended for pregnant women, children under the age of 12, individuals taking blood thinners or recovering from recent surgery, or those who have an extreme phobia of needles that would make this method of treatment unnecessarily anxiety-ridden. At Effective Chiropractic PG County, we strive to maintain open lines of communication at all times to make sure you’re comfortable before, during, and after your treatment. Please feel free to talk to both your doctor and your chiropractor if you have any concerns about dry needling therapy.

How to Find the Right Dry Needling Therapy Practitioner

Just as you likely wouldn’t roll the dice and take your chances with an inexperienced acupuncturist, it’s imperative that you visit a chiropractor or physical therapist who’s been properly trained and experienced in dry needling therapy to ensure safe, beneficial treatment. Your risks for severe complications, including spinal epidural hematoma or a punctured lung, are increased with an inexperienced practitioner. You should also be wary of anyone not recommending it be combined with other methods of treatment. You can rest assured you’re in capable hands when you visit Effective Chiropractic PG County in Lanham, Maryland. Our chiropractors have extensive expertise working with patients who suffer from neck and back pain, as well as whiplash-related injuries, migraines, and more.

How Do I Know if Dry Needling Therapy Is Right for Me?

Are you on pins and needles, wondering if dry needling therapy is right for you? Don’t let the name intimidate you into not considering this effective method of treatment. The procedure is safe and minimally invasive with minor side effects. For your safety and that of others, we always use sterilized needles and adequately dispose of all needles after each session to prevent the spread of bloodborne illnesses and diseases. During your free initial consultation with our chiropractor, we’ll go over your medical history, feelings about using a treatment involving needles, and your personal pain threshold to see if it’s feasible for you.

Contact Us to Schedule an Appointment in PG County, Maryland

Would you like to learn more about dry needling therapy and how it can help you reach your specific pain prevention or injury recovery goals? With three Maryland locations to serve you in Lanham, Millersville, and Crofton, Effective Chiropractic PG County provides dry needling therapy and many other chiropractic treatments for patients of all ages. Our primary goal is to help patients eliminate pain, and we feel that dry needling therapy is a powerful, proven technique for that. Please get in touch with us to schedule an appointment for a free consultation to see if dry needling therapy is a good option for you. Say farewell to chronic and acute muscle pain forever with a personalized chiropractic treatment plan that’s been tailored to you and your needs!

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