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The Basics of Dry Needling

What is dry needling?

Dry needling is a form of myofascial release that uses acupuncture needles to release trigger points in muscles and help stimulate healing in soft tissue injuries. Trigger points are those muscle knots in your back that don't seem to go away. They often appear after an injury but can build up over time. Trigger points can be found in any muscle of the body, and we frequently see them in cases of plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, headaches, and sciatica.

How does it work?

Dry needling works in a similar way to many other myofascial release techniques. I like to say, the goal is all the same, but the method varies. Whether it's Graston Technique, massage therapy, or cupping the main physiological effect is increasing blood flow, stimulating the healing process, and restoring optimal muscle function. Dry needling offers a conservative way to reduce the effects of trigger points, increase circulation, improve range of motion, and improve function without drugs or surgery.

What does it feel like?

The acupuncture needle is inserted using an insertion tube or a guide tube. This effectively tricks the body from feeling pain when the needle punctures the skin. The needle is used directly into the trigger point or tightened muscle fibers. Gentle motion with the needle is often performed to ensure the trigger point is manipulated and relaxed. Electric stimulation in conjunction with the needle can also be used at the site. There is rarely any pain associated with this technique although some areas are more sensitive than others.

Is it the same as acupuncture?

No. Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine which encompasses much more than myofascial release. Acupuncture utilizes a combination of local and distal acupoints along meridians or channels all over the body. When getting acupuncture it is very likely points will be used along the spine, in the ears, hands, and feet for relaxation, pain relief, and stress management. Dry needling uses acupuncture needles but not necessarily acupuncture points.

Who can perform dry needling?

The certification for dry needling is very different from acupuncture. As chiropractors, to become certified in acupuncture in the state of FL you must complete over 100 hours of training and pass the NBCE board exam. Dry needling is included in this training. A dry needling certification typically requires about 24 hours of training, and has no board examination. It is important to seek out a well-qualified, trained professional to perform these services.

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