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What is it?

Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle [much smaller than a typical hypodermic needle] to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments. [It] is a technique used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle, fascia, and connective tissue, and to diminish persistent peripheral nociceptive input, and reduce or restore impairments in body structure and function, leading to improved activity and participation.

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How is it used?

Your therapist will work with you to help identify “trigger points” present, or other generally painful and/or dysfunctional areas in your muscles that may be contributing to your symptoms. The needle is then advanced into these locations in order to achieve a local twitch response which can help release muscle tension, diminish pain, increase flexibility of the tissue, and quiet muscular activity and spasm. Electrical stimulation may also be applied to help facilitate desired muscle activity, or to provide further relief from symptoms.  This is most often followed up with individually-tailored exercises designed to further improve function. Dry needling is a safe and effective treatment for chronic pain of neuropathic origin with very few side effects.


How's it different from Acupuncture?

Physical therapists who perform Functional Dry Needling consider every muscle and its relationship to the body, seeking to address these tissues for improved function and pain.
The practice of acupuncture by acupuncturists and the performance of dry needling by physical therapists differ in terms of historical, philosophical, indicative, and practical context. The performance of modern dry needling by physical therapists is based on western neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous system. Physical therapists who perform dry needling do not use traditional acupuncture theories or acupuncture terminology.
Health care education and practice have developed in such a way that most professions today share some procedures, tools, or interventions with other regulated professions. It is unreasonable to expect a profession to have exclusive domain over an intervention, tool, or modality.

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