Dry needling is a technique that is fast gaining appreciation within the physiotherapy world, with many practitioners throughout Australia now trained in the use of acupuncture needles to assist with their client’s pain and rehabilitation.
Dry needling is a unique procedure intended to specifically target and restore muscle function, with an emphasis on improving tissue healing and restoring normal tissue function. This is important as continued activity with poor muscle function may lead to further tissue damage and increased pain. Dry needling is not meant to replace conventional medical procedures such as physiotherapy or surgery. However, when combined with conventional treatment options, dry needling can be an influential method to accelerate pain reduction, healing and the restoration of normal tissue function.
The exact mechanisms of dry needling are complex and not fully known. However, there is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the positive effect inserting a needle has on the electrical and chemical communications that take place in our nervous system. These include inhibiting the transmission of pain signals in our spinal cord and increasing the release of our own pain relieving chemicals within our brains. The pain relieving effect of dry needling is gaining strong support in mainstream Western medicine, with public hospital systems now directly funding its use.
So the question is dry needling safe?
Dry needling is a very safe treatment. In the clinic we are trained in using a ‘clean’ technique, and only individually packaged, single use, sterile needles are used. The needles are very fine (.16-.30mm), and very rarely does any bleeding or bruising occur at the insertion site.
So what are the benefits of dry needling? Dry needling may provide relief for some muscular pain and stiffness. In addition, easing the trigger points may improve flexibility and increase range of motion. That’s why this method is often used to treat sports injuries, muscle pain, and even fibromyalgia pain. Dry needling, unlike acupuncture, does not have guidelines for practice.