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What is dry needling & why use it?

We are often asked “what is dry-needling & how is it different to acupuncture?”

Traditional Acupuncture: Needles are inserted using “meridians” based on the philosophies of the East Asian Medicine (EAM) approach. This includes a thorough traditional EAM assessment and treatment. We can briefly explain Acupuncture as correcting imbalances throughout the body according to the flow of “Chi” through designated points along the meridians of the body.

Western Acupuncture: Western acupuncture utilises meridian points but applies it to western reasoning with particular consideration to neurophysiology and anatomy. It does not utilise any EAM assessment methods.

Dry Needling: Dry Needling involves the insertion of sterile acupuncture needles into altered or dysfunctional tissue to aid in alleviating muscular and neural symptoms including pain, tightness, and paraesthesia. Dry needling is typically combined with other forms of treatment and/or exercises to form part of a comprehensive treatment plan. It has a great effect on reducing inflammation by stimulating the release of immune cells locally to the needle insertion, which increases blood flow for quicker healing.

What actually happens?

Trigger point needling involves insertion of a needle directly into a muscular trigger point to elicit a twitch response which facilitates a relaxation of the muscle spasm. Other styles of dry needling may involve the needles being inserted and left in for 5-10 minutes. The style of needling your receive will depend on the problem being treated and the therapist who is treating you.

What are the benefits...

Your therapist may recommend dry needling as part of your overall treatment for its benefits to muscle relaxation, pain relief and the treatment of irritable muscle trigger points.

Dry-needling would be used to;

  • Released knots or tight muscles

  • Reduce inflammation

  • Treat chronic or acute muscular injuries, ie headache, low back pain

Could I get an infection from dry needling?

Therapists comply with the hygiene requirements as outlined in the Australian Guidelines for the prevention and control of infection in Healthcare (2010).

Only fine filament, single use, sterilised acupuncture needles will be used for insertion and treatment in Myofascial Dry Needling, and the used needles will be disposed of into a sharps container immediately after use. Are there any side affects?

Serious complications following dry needling by a qualified practitioner are rare, however as dry needling is an invasive procedure (needle penetrates the skin) they are possible. These may include infection or needling of the thoracic region is associated with risk of pneumothorax (punctured lung).

Our therapists that practice dry needling however have been specially trained on needling technique and take all precautions to avoid such complications.

The best way to minimise risks is to answer all questions about your health fully and honestly.

Some other side affects could include;

  • Light headedness

  • Fatigue

  • Deep aching sensation to the area that has been needled

  • Occasionally a temporary sharp, shooting and/or pricking sensation can be felt with needle insertion.

  • Sometimes when the needle is in place there may be no sensation felt. Alternatively there may be a feeling of warmth, dullness, a sensation travelling away from the needle or even itchiness.

  • Bruising in the area where a needle has been inserted

  • Bleeding on needle withdrawal

  • A feeling that the needle is still inserted.

  • Soreness

  • Local twitch, spasm response

  • Pain relief may only last 1-2 days.

  • Pain relief may be delayed for 12-14 hours after treatment.

Dry-needling is an effective form of treatment and when administered by trained professionals is often low risk. If you have any questions or concerns about your treatment it is best to talk to your practitioner prior to treatment.

If you're interested in Dry-needling as a part of your treatment plan book an appointment with one of our trained practitioners here.

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