Dry needling is a medical treatment where a thin needle is inserted into a muscle to help relieve pain and tightness. The needle is called "Dry" because it does not have any medication or liquid in it. The needle is used to target specific areas of the muscle to help improve blood flow and reduce pain.
Most importantly, expect to feel better!
During the treatment, generally, you may notice the prick of the needle being inserted (many don't feel this due to the technique used by the therapist). After that, you will notice a sensation of pressure. Finally, you will notice a jumping sensation in your muscle. It will feel similar to a mild cramping or contraction of the muscle and will last a couple seconds. The needle is then left in for additional time or removed at that point based on the technique selected for your needs!
Immediately, later that day, and/or the next morning, you should expect to feel the positive effects! This is the exciting part!
Dry needling is considered safe and effective when performed by trained healthcare providers. However, as with any medical procedure, there are some risks associated.
- Bruising at insertion site - all major blood vessels are avoided but occasionally a capillary will be impacted resulting in a small (generally dime sized) bruise.
- Temporary soreness/pain - soreness is very similar to other injections and should be expected. This will generally dissipate within 24 hours but can last longer in some cases.
- Infection - infection is very rare with dry needling given the type of needle utilized and the size of the needle. Precautions such as gloves, alcohol wipes, sterile needle, etc are utilized to reduce this risk further.
- Pneumothorax - this is a very rare side effect. Special training and specific techniques are utilized to avoid the lung field.
These risks will be discussed with your PT prior to dry needling.