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Dry needling: What is it and who can benefit?


Dry needling: What is it and who can benefit?

If you have pain that limits your movement, you know how much it can impact your quality of life. If exercise and medication aren’t managing your symptoms, there may be a different approach to try: dry needling.

The therapy, which is performed by a trained and licensed professional, involves inserting very small needles into your muscles or other soft tissues to help them relax and relieve pain. For some patients, the approach can bring relief when nothing else seems to work.

“It can help restore function and reduce pain when other things haven’t worked as quickly or haven’t worked as well,” says Vince DiGiovanna, a senior physical therapist at Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Services at Pawleys Island who offers dry needling therapy.

How does it work?

During the procedure, your provider will take sterilized, single-use needles and insert them in the affected muscles or targeted soft tissues in your body. The therapist may use multiple needles and leave them in for varying lengths of time, depending on your needs and treatment focus and may include electrical stimulation to the needles as well to magnify the therapeutic effect.

The needles used in this process are so small that people often feel no pain during the process. There’s no medicine in the needle, which is why it’s called “dry” needling, but sometimes therapists will apply small bursts of electricity through the needles to further stimulate the muscles.

“It’s a lot easier and more comfortable than people expect it to be,” says DiGiovanna. “Most people have a harder time looking at the needle than the actual insertion itself.”

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Some people feel relief immediately after dry needling, while others need multiple sessions. Patients may develop small bruises at insertion sites or experience muscle soreness after the procedure.

Dry needling is not acupuncture. Both procedures use the same type of needles but have different intents of intervention.

Dry needling is a safe, evidence-based approach shown to be effective when used as part of a comprehensive therapy program.

Who can benefit?

Patients with conditions ranging from neck pain, back pain, tendonitis of the elbow, shoulder pain, sciatica and more may benefit from dry needling.

“Just about anybody who has pain or musculoskeletal conditions can benefit from dry needling,” says DiGiovanna. “It can be used for almost any adult patient.”

Discuss with your physician whether dry needling is right for you. Your physician can refer you to a licensed Tidelands Health physical therapist who can further evaluate your condition and discuss the treatment.

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