What is Dry Needling?

Published on December 18, 2023

Despite a somewhat intimidating name, dry needling is a treatment used to alleviate pain and help with the impairment of movement. It is a minor invasive procedure, since a fine needle is inserted into the skin and muscle.

It’s generally used as part of a larger treatment plan but has multiple benefits.

How Does Dry Needling Work?

Dry needling is when a practitioner places tiny filiform needles, that don’t contain a substance (hence dry), into specific muscles or tissues. The needles are then manipulated, per patient tolerance, to create a greater effect on the surrounding tissues.

What are the Benefits of Dry Needling?

There are 3 main goals that dry needling can be targeting. The first is to reduce pain. Dry needling stimulates endogenous opioids from immune cells, which stimulates opioid receptors. It does this by activating the sympathetic nervous system (flight or flight nervous system) which increases the recruitment and migration of immune cells to the inflamed tissue, thereby reducing pain.

The second goal is to reduce muscle contractions. Dry needling focuses on small areas of knotted muscle. These knots occur when muscles contract, but then don’t relax. This can happen through everyday actions like repetitive movements, poor posture, tension and even stress. The most common occurrence of knotted or constricted muscles comes through using those areas, but prolonged inactivity can also be a cause. That’s why prolonged times of sitting or lying down can create some of these trigger points, too. Dry needling impacts those affected areas by stimulating an enzyme that reduces the muscle’s ability to create a contraction, allowing the muscle to relax.

The third goal is to address chronic, stubborn injuries. It does this by resetting the healing process. There are three phases of healing: inflammatory, proliferative and remodeling. The body can sometimes get stuck in between some of these phases, causing those chronic conditions. With dry needling, the practitioner causes small, localized damage to the tissue, so the body has to restart the healing process all over again.

For more information on dry needling, and how its effects might benefit you, reach out to us at Highlands Family Chiropractic today.


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