Dry Needling Vs. Acupuncture: What’s The Difference?

Dry Needling Vs. Acupuncture: What’s The Difference?

A chiropractor or physical therapist may use a technique called dry needling to treat muscle pain. The term “dry” needle refers to a needle without medication; this is not an injection, but rather a thin needle inserted into an area of the muscle called a trigger point. The trigger point is a tight band of muscle situated within the larger muscle; when touched, trigger points are tender and may radiate pain to other parts of the body.

How Does Dry Needling Work?

The thin filiform needle is inserted through the skin to stimulate the underlying trigger points. The goal is to try to inactivate trigger points that are causing pain or limiting range of motion. The needle causes a tight muscle to twitch and then relax, which increases the blood flow and sets off a nerve response that alters pain perception. Basically, dry needling allows a chiropractor to reach tissues that he cannot reach manually with palpation or massage; the technique is used before beginning an active treatment plan, or to get back on track when pain has temporarily postponed a treatment plan. Dry needling therefore is used as one technique in a larger treatment plan.

Dry needling is also sometimes referred to as intramuscular manual therapy, and is not acupuncture, which is based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists to redirect energy flow in the body.

Alternatively, dry needling is based on modern Western medicine and supported by research showing promising results showing that the technique is effective in pain control and reduction of muscle tension and improved muscle function. The American Physical Therapy Association recommends dry needling based on the research evidence gathered thus far. Studies for specific conditions, such as “runner’s knee” are now underway to gather more research data.

What Conditions & Injuries Can Dry Needling Help With?

Dry needling has been used for neck pain, low back pain, tennis elbow, shoulder impingement, sciatica, bursitis, plantar fasciitis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, and athletic sprains of the hamstring, groin, knee or ankle.>/p>

It is important to know that not every chiropractor or physical therapist is trained in the technique. Only health professionals like those at Knoxville Spine and Sports who have taken specific post-graduate education and training can perform dry needling, and they wear gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when performing this procedure. The sterile needles are disposed of in a medical sharps container just as any other needle would be. Dry needling is not recommended for patients who are in the first trimester of pregnancy, patients with bleeding disorders, or a patient with a local infection near the needling site. While the needling can sometimes produce minor bleeding and some soreness, the procedure is very safe when performed by a trained individual.

If you are suffering from a certain condition or injury and want to learn more about how dry needling in Knoxville will help your condition, call us today at Knoxville Spine and Sports!

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