Dry Needling

What Is Dry Needling & How Do Physiotherapists Do It?


Dry Needling is a broad term used to differentiate “non-injection” needling from the practice of “injection needling”. The term dry needling is also used to differentiate the use of needling in a western physiological paradigm from the use of needling in an oriental paradigm which is referred to as acupuncture.


Many people understandably confuse dry needling and acupuncture. That’s because both are often used to treat similar issues, from osteoarthritis to tension headaches. However, dry needling was developed as a practice far more recently and tends to be used more for trigger points and areas of significant pain. This is particularly useful when you are suffering from chronic pain due to muscles that have become knotted or put in a state of spasm. Not only can dry needling significantly reduce pain and discomfort, it can also help to improve your flexibility and range of movement. That is why it is such a useful tool for physiotherapists – by reducing pain in the affected area, a physiotherapist can more easily treat the problem at its source and prevent further damage. At Nelson Bay Physiotherapy, we offer dry needling services as part of our comprehensive treatment.


What is Dry Needling Plus?


The dry needling plus approach addresses many of the limitations of established dry needling practice by differentiating between a variety of needling techniques and applying them to specific changes identified in the tissue by means of skilled palpation and logical, range based physical assessment.


Am I appropriate?


Speak to your therapist regarding your suitability but in general Dry Needling is not recommended for you if you report any of the following; blood-borne disease, fatigue, poor sleep, gastro-intestinal history, multiple pain sites, cold to touch globally, history of poor response or increased pain following manual therapy, symptoms worse with fatigue or stress, self-assessed depression, chronic headaches, dysmenorrhea, fibromyalgia, or are a ‘non-responder’.

Dry Needling can be used in the following cases with care; pregnancy, diabetes, lungs, medication (diabetes, blood pressure, bleeding disorders).


The Process


Practitioners dry needling start by inserting filiform needles into a variety of different points associated with your current pain or muscular issue. A physiotherapist will often assess your situation first and find the right method to suit your needs. If the issue is related to chronic pain, dry needling can have a significant effect and help ease your discomfort. Whether your practitioner opts for trigger point, in-and-out or non-trigger point techniques, there are a range of benefits associated with all types of dry needling. Just talk to the team at Nelson Bay Physiotherapy today.


What are The Effects?


o   vascular effects of increasing blood flow 

o   enhanced initial phase of inflammation by increasing cellular activity 

o   increased range of movement 

o   reduced localized swelling by releasing cortisol from adrenal glands 

o   anti-inflammatory effects via release of neuropeptides 

o   parasympathetic effects 

o   sweating, vasodilation 

o   constitutional effects (increased serotonin, leukocytes, cortisol, organ 
function through smooth muscle dilatation, increased opioid levels in CSF) 

o   effects can be sustained for 72 hours with changes in external factors to be 
made within this time. 


The Benefits


Dry needling can be used to treat sports injuries, arthritis, muscle stiffness, fibromyalgia pain and repetitive strain injuries, helping to increase mobility and flexibility in the affected area. The current research on dry needling is still quite limited, due to it being a relatively new practice. However, many people attest to its effectiveness and report significant reduction of pain, especially immediately after treatment. The elimination of pain, when used in conjunction with physiotherapy, can have a positive effect on your recovery in the long term. Your physiotherapist at Nelson Bay Physiotherapy will help develop a treatment plan that is suited to your needs.


What to Expect During Treatment 


·       Treatment of a quadrant rather than a specific joint instead of or in conjunction with manual techniques. 

·       There are 5 broad types of needle manipulation (autonomic, superficial, even, deep and single-point). 

·       Your sensation may vary from little or no sensation of needling to a deep dull spreading sensation with tingling, twitching, sensations in other areas and sweating or feeling hot. 

·       There is a possibility of transient symptoms during and/or after the treatment (fatigue, light headedness, temporary aggravation of symptoms) 
What to Expect Post-Treatment 

·       Care should be taken with driving long distances (don’t drive if faint, poor colour) and it may be advisable to have someone else drive you home from your appointment 

·       There may be no direct post-treatment soreness as often follows manual therapy but you may have indirect muscle soreness due to the new functional position of tissues 

·       May have a feeling of overworked muscle in other areas above or below the treated area 

·       If border of bone or articular cartilage is needled then expect a dull ache for 24-48 hours post-treatment (use heat or anti-inflammatories is severe) 

·       Occasional sub-dermal bleed causing lump immediately or following treatment (may bruise, usually resolves by next day) 

·       Bruising may occur 

·       Do not stretch or do strong exercise post-treatment if working on an acute or 
chronic injury Don’t exercise or train on the same day of treatment as this will cause 
soreness and we also need time for tissue reprogramming to occur before 

·       May feel stiff and sore as in a muscle cork 


Cupping & it’s Effects 


Cupping may be a part of your treatment at Nelson Bay Physiotherapy This refers to the application of vacuum cups to fleshy areas of the body to produce a change in superficial circulation. It is useful for large areas or to assist in defining areas appropriate for needling techniques. This is also often a useful technique to warm-tissue prior to manual therapy. 

It’s effects include;

·       Changes to superficial circulation stimulating micro-circulation and tissue repair 

·       Stimulates structural change in tissue 

·       Deep effect via superficial structures 

·       Bruise-like marks may occur due to the disruption of local bloodvessels (not an 
adverse reaction) 


The Difference


Acupuncture has been practised for thousands of years and is based around the idea that medical issues are the result of blocked ‘chi’ or ‘healing energy’. By removing these ‘blockages’ acupuncture is said to be effective on pain, nausea, vomiting, headaches, arthritis and more. On the other hand, dry needling is much newer and based more around known trigger points in the muscles. By inserting dry needles into these areas, practitioners can loosen knots, spasms and stiffness in your muscles, bringing relief, relaxation and flexibility when you need it most!

If you would like to learn more about dry needling or book an appointment at our practice, contact Nelson Bay Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Centre today by calling 02 4981 3461.