Dry Needling FAQ
What is dry needling?
Dry needling is a skilled intervention performed by a licensed physical therapist that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and release underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments. Dry needling is a technique used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle, fascia, and connective tissue, and diminish persistent peripheral nociceptive input, and reduce or restore impairments of body structure and function leading to improved activity and participation.
What conditions can be treated with dry needling?
A variety of musculoskeletal problems including, but not limited to: Acute/Chronic injuries, Headaches, neck/back pain, tendinitis, muscle spasms, “sciatica”, hip/knee pain, muscle strains, fibromyalgia, ‘tennis/golfer’s elbow”, overuse injuries, etc.
Where does dry needling fit in the entire rehabilitation program?
Dry needling is a modality to address musculoskeletal pain, it is needed in the beginning in order to break the pain cycle. Once that is achieved, other treatment options are introduced for stability and postural re-education to avoid pain from recurring.
Is dry needling similar to acupuncture?
The objectives and philosophy behind the use of dry needling by physical therapists is not based on ancient theories or tenets of traditional Chinese medicine. The performance of modern dry needling by physical therapists is based on western neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Both dry needling and acupuncture do, however, use the same tool; a solid needle filament. There are many similarities and differences between dry needling and acupuncture. Licensed physical therapists in a growing number of states can use dry needling under the scope of their practice. Dry needling also falls within the scope of acupuncture practice. Physical therapists at Northland Rehab are not licensed acupuncturists and do not practice acupuncture.
Is the procedure painful?
Most patients do not feel the insertion of the needle. The local twitch response elicits a very brief (less than a second) painful response. Some patients describe this as a little electrical shock; others feel it more like a cramping sensation. Again, the therapeutic response occurs with the elicitation of local twitch responses and that is a good and desirable reaction.
How long does it take for the procedure to work?
Typically, it takes several visits for a positive reaction to take place. Again, we are trying to cause mechanical and biochemical changes without any pharmacological means. Therefore, we are looking for a cumulative response to achieve a certain threshold after which the pain cycle is disturbed.
What side effects can I expect after the treatment?
Improvements such as increased range of motion, ease of movement and decreased signs/symptoms are expected. Many patients report being sore after the treatment in both the area treated and the area of referred symptoms. There is also occasional bruising and the soreness may last hours to a couple days.
Once I am feeling better, how often do I need to come back to maintain my progress?
Once the dysfunction or imbalance has been corrected the body will often maintain the appropriate balance. However, the musculoskeletal system is under constant stress from the demands of varying postures, gravity, psychological and emotional states etc. Therefore, working with your therapist to gain strength and stability to avoid future issues is encouraged.
How much does it cost?
Dry Needling as a unique service is not separately reimbursed by insurance, so our cost structure listed below is separate from when we are seeing you as a physical therapy patient or if we are seeing you for dry needling only:
Dry Needling Only Patients:
Initial Evaluation and Treatment: $70.00 for 30 minute session
Follow-up treatments: Charged in intervals of 15 minutes with each interval costing $35 (ie. 1-15 mins - $35, 16-30 mins - $70...)